Economic Development

Chill Can Project Attracts Interests from Suppliers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Joseph Company International expects to begin distribution and “some very light manufacturing” by midsummer at its chill can beverage campus, says its chairman and CEO.

And Mitchell Joseph doesn’t expect his company to be alone on the East Side once operations are at full capacity by the end of next year. He’s spoken with executives from several companies that do business with the Joseph Company at its operations on the West Coast and in the United Kingdom, he explains, and they’ve have expressed interest in establishing operations here.

Joseph says they asked why he is locating his plant here. “I was born here,” he tells them, and the executives ask if there is room for them to service his company here.

“We’re in light discussions right now with these people,” Joseph says. “We have plenty of room.”

City Council takes up legislation tomorrow that would add six properties – three vacant sites and three with structures – to the Near Eastside Renewal Area, where Joseph Company International is building its $20 million manufacturing and research campus.

The campus will house bottling, manufacturing and research and development operations for the company, which produces and distributes its West Coast Chill drink. Joseph International has developed self-chilling can technology and plans to develop artificial intelligence related to the food and beverage industry.

Two of the planned nine buildings are completed, other than slab needing to be poured, Joseph says. Once the weather breaks, workers will pour slab in the first building, which will be used for the company’s plastics division, he says, and then in the second building.

When that process is completed, offices will be constructed, racks set up and equipment installed, probably by June, Joseph says. The company is waiting for permits to be approved for the third building, which should be constructed by the beginning of May, and the fourth – for research and development technologies – should be completed this summer as well.

“We expect by midsummer to be doing distribution out of Youngstown and some very light manufacturing,” Joseph says. “We will definitely have product into Youngstown no later than June, and distribution at the same time.”

The company might also bring in some California-made product for Youngstown-only distribution, “private label” work being put together for the Mahoning Valley, he says.

“By the end of 2019, all nine buildings will be up and running,” he says.

The city, which assisted the company with acquiring property for the campus, approved a 75% property tax abatement in December on improvements to the project site.

Last week Joseph joined city and business leaders who met with a delegation from Japan that came to Youngstown to see his company’s project. “I thought that was remarkable,” he says.

Asked what it takes to bring industry back to the inner city, Joseph observes there has to be a hook. Youngstown has two: Youngstown State University, under the leadership of its president, Jim Tressel; and the chill-can technology coming to the city, which “will change the way everyone understands cold drinks,” he says.

The company is targeting 237 employees at the campus, although Joseph says that number could go higher.

“We’re inundated on a weekly basis with resumes from people who are highly qualified — engineers, production people, graphics – and we’re excited about starting interviews,” he says.

The company will begin interviewing in April, first for security and maintenance positions, he reports. By summer, hiring for distribution and sales should be under way, and by the end of summer there will be a great need for engineering and production personnel.

Pictured at top: Orange barrels and a gate block the entrance to one of the two buildings constructed at the chill-can campus on Youngstown’s East Side.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.