East Palestine Event Celebrates Manufacturers, Workers

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio – For the second consecutive year, the Columbiana County Port Authority on Tuesday celebrated Manufacturing Month Workforce Appreciation Day, recognizing village manufacturers and their employees during an event at the Brittain Motors lot on East Martin Street.

Penny Traina, CCPA executive director, said she and her team expected 200 workers from the village’s manufacturing companies to take advantage of the day’s events, which included free lunch prepared by The Original Roadhouse, tote bags filled with “swag,” T-shirts and a raffle with chances to win a number of prizes, including a Yeti cooler, a smoker grill and more. 

The lunches and goodies were carried by officials to one company, which found it difficult for its employees to leave work to participate during the celebration hours, according to Traina.

The CCPA first recognized Manufacturing Month in 2022 with a pilot program for Salem manufacturers, and Traina said the plan is to continue annually, moving the event around the county to encompass all area manufacturers.

“Manufacturing is the backbone of our county. It’s important to celebrate the jobs that they do,” Traina said.

“Thank you for all you do,” Traina called out to employees as she encouraged them to help themselves to the offerings. “We appreciate you,” she assured them.

Among those who stopped by was county Commissioner Mike Halleck, who also greeted employees.

“I think this is wonderful. It is appropriate we do this in this town,” Halleck said. “It’s part of the validation of this town and the recovery of this town.” 

The village is still recovering from the Feb. 3 train derailment that has caused both manufacturing and commercial business, as well as residents, months of concern.

Haedan Panezott, who serves as the CCPA’s coordinator for recovery efforts, said village manufacturing firms were definitely affected by the train derailment. 

“With any type of disaster like that, you’re going to be impacted. Your production time is going to be decreased. You’re going to have back orders,” Panezott said.

Employees from East Palestine manufacturers had the opportunity to sign up for chances to win six prizes during a Workforce Appreciation Day on Tuesday.

Asked if the manufacturers are seeing improvement, Panezott said, “I think they’re getting to that point, especially with the opportunities for relief funding through the Department of Development and with the the USDA and valid partners. They’ll be at a stage where they are in their recovery mode and no longer having to stress about bringing in relief funding.”

Panezott continued: “I think this is going to be a lasting problem, but there are a lot of responsible partners here stepping up to the plate to assist the village and the manufacturers.” 

Although he conceded there were village manufacturers lost due to the train derailment, Panezott said he did not feel at liberty to discuss their specific cases. 

State Rep. Monica Robb Blasdel of Columbiana, R-79th, also attended and presented Traina with a commendation from the Ohio House of Representatives, stating National Manufacturing Month was “conceived as a way to raise awareness of the numerous contributions the manufacturing sector has made to our country,” and commending the CCPA for establishing itself as “a fine ambassador for the region and an ardent advocate for the many workers and businesses that call it home, and its exemplary work to foster a thriving economic landscape.”

The event was made possible by numerous sponsors, who were noted on the backs of the T-shirts handed out to employees. 

They included TeamNEO, Columbiana County and Northeast Ohio Region/Jobs Ohio; Columbiana County Education Service Center; Valley Economic Development Partners; The East Fairfield Stone Company; Columbiana County Economic Development; Youngstown Business Incubator; Bricker-Graydon; Howells & Baird Civil Engineers & Surveyors; Brittain Motors; Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber; and Columbiana County Fair Housing.

Pictured at top: The Original Roadhouse provided lunch for an estimated 200 workers from East Palestine manufacturing firms Tuesday in the Brittain Motors lot.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.