Chamber Co-Hosts Public Policy Conference Sept. 12

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A bipartisan opportunity to explore public policies important to the Mahoning Valley will be offered at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Conference, held Sept. 12 at Stambaugh Auditorium. 

The conference, running from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is a partnership between Columbus-based The Success Group and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. It will feature government leaders, media professionals, business leaders and policy experts at three public policy panels. 

“It will provide attendees with a chance to hear directly from those who influence policy and political agendas in the region and state,” said Jennifer Flatter, CEO of Impact Ohio, in a statement. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose at noon and Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague at 2 p.m. Both will discuss their plans for their respective offices and bring their perspective on issues impacting the Mahoning Valley. 

Registration, networking and lunch will begin at 11 a.m. Remarks from Flatter, Regional Chamber President and CEO James Dignan, and Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown will be at 11:45 a.m.

The first policy session of the day, “Increasing Manufacturing Competitiveness: The next generation of technology & machining,” will begin at 12:45 p.m. 

Panelists of the first policy session include Jeff Herrmann, CEO of The Business Journal as moderator; Matt Dolan, chairman, Senate Finance Committee; Mike Garvey, president and CEO, M-7 Technologies; Michael Hripko, vice president of external affairs, government relations and economic development, Youngstown State University; Erin O’Donnell, director of partnership and community relations, America Makes. 

The second session of the day, “Military Affairs and the Economy: The importance of Camp Garfield and the Youngstown Air Reserve Station,” will begin at 2:15 p.m. This panel will focus on the many opportunities in the Mahoning Valley for investment in military and defense.

Brenda Linert, editor of the Tribune Chronicle will be moderating this panel. On the panel are Vito Abruzzino, executive director of the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commision; Michael Dustman, director of constituent services, Office of Sen. Rob Portman R-OH; Rick Perales R-73, chairman of the Ohio House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs; Ohio Sen. Michael Rulli R-33, member of the Ohio Senate Local Government, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee; Joseph Zeis, senior policy advisor for aerospace and defense, Office of Gov. Mike DeWine. 

The last panel will be at 3:30 p.m. and will feature environmental policy professionals during the “Mahoning River Restoration: Enhancing sustainability to improve the region” panel. 

Panelists include moderator Amanda Smith, reporter, WKBN-TV; Mayor William Franklin of Warren; Jim Kinnick, executive director at Eastgate Regional Councils of Government; Sean O’Brien R-32, ranking member, Ohio Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee; Kurt Princic, district chief, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Northeast District Office.

There will be a post-conference reception and river launch at the B&O Station, sponsored by Covelli Enterprises and hosted by the Regional Chamber Foundation.

“Impact Ohio will bring experienced voices into the Youngstown/Warren region to discuss priorities moving forward,” said Nick Santucci, director of government and public affairs for the Regional Chamber. “A political conference of this scale has never taken place before in this community.” 

The Success Group launched Impact Ohio in 1984 with the first Post Election Conference in Columbus. Interest has grown over the last 35 years, which led Impact Ohio to expand in 2017 with regional conferences. Impact Ohio will have six regional conferences this year. 

Registration for the conference and reception is available at

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