Council Votes Would Advance Training Center

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A proposed manufacturing training center serving the Mahoning Valley likely is three years off, but the project is expected to inch closer to reality this evening.

Members of Youngstown City Council will consider two items related to the Youngstown-Mahoning Valley manufacturing training center at its special meeting tonight.

If approved, one ordinance would authorize the Board of Control to enter into any “necessary” agreements to conduct a feasibility study evaluating the cost to construct the center. The other authorizes the city to accept the $50,000 grant awarded in June from the state Local Government Innovation Fund that would pay for the study.

“We’re at a very exciting point,” said Jessica Borza, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, one of the partners in the project. “We’re very grateful for the city’s partnership and we’re excited about actually being able to get some additional consultation to help guide us in the right direction.”

Youngstown applied for the grant on behalf of the partners pursuing the project. They partners include MVMC, Youngstown State University, Eastern Gateway Community College and county career and technical centers.

Borza envisions a time frame of three years for the project. That span could be longer or shorter depending on whether an existing building is chosen or new construction is recommended.

Once council members approve the legislation, Borza wants to start the process of hiring a consultant. A working group is meeting to put together “more detailed specifications” to aid with both site selection and the architectural specifics of the feasibility study.

Aspects of those specifications include the number of classrooms, how efficiencies could be gained from smart scheduling and how equipment could be put together in “certain functional areas” to maximize its use, she said.

“Within 30 days, we want to have a better sense of how much it may cost,” and a “higher level of specificity” within 90 days regarding a site, she said.

Proponents of the project are concentrating on the downtown area for the center. The working group has discussed potential locations, but the consulting firm could broaden that number and “help us get that list narrowed down based on the criteria,” Borza said.

Additional fundraising for the project is on hold until completion of the feasibility study and the determination of the actual costs for the center, she said.

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