Groundbreaking in East Palestine; Investments on Route 422

Seven months after the fiery Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, the Columbiana County village received a lot of attention this week.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order to protect people in the village and nearby communities and to continue to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for the Feb. 3 derailment. On Thursday, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw and local and state officials broke ground at the site of the future First Responder Training Center in the municipality.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, returned to the village Friday to visit the East Palestine Clinic and meet with local health care providers. “This is the kind of community that’s so often forgotten or exploited by corporate America,” Brown said in a statement. “I’m here for the long haul. We’re still going to be here for months, for the next year, for however long it takes to make sure residents get the support they need, including long-term health monitoring and care.”

A congressional field hearing to assess the cleanup progress and community needs had been scheduled for Friday at the American Legion Hall on North Walnut Street. But the hearing, dubbed “Life After the Train Derailment: Ensuring Transparency and Accountability for the People of East Palestine,” was postponed due to changes in the House floor schedule.  

In The Business Journal’s MidSeptember issue, Dan O’Brien took a look at the U.S. Route 422 corridor in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. This section of U.S. 422 has seen better days, but there are signs of new investment.

Also from our MidSeptember issue, Michael Moliterno talked with Joe Koch Sr. about changes in the construction industry and how Joe Koch Construction has overcome challenges.

On the development front, plans were announced for a proposed $40 million renovation/demolition project at the former Warren YMCA building in Warren; Western Reserve Port Authority’s board of directors approved issuing and selling up to $17 million in bonds to assist with the financing of a new $20 million senior care center in Columbiana County; and the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley broke ground on its new $3 million Volunteer Resource Center in Boardman.

Here’s a look at those stories and other top stories this week from

From Indian Trail to Route 422 Corridor

Bill West is building his hot dog shop on U.S. Route 422 in Youngstown out of repurposed shipping containers.

There are hundreds of diverse businesses across the long length of U.S. Route 422 in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. 

The corridor is home to retail, medical and professional offices, restaurants, service stations, small strip plazas, large commercial developments, heavy industry and even parcels of bucolic countryside.

This section of U.S. 422 has seen better days, but Bill West, who acquired land on the northern side of 422 as the preferred site to build his new business, Heck Ya Chili Dogs and Fries, believes it holds tremendous potential. READ

Officials Break Ground on East Palestine Training Center

Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw.

As a Norfolk Southern train traveled on the tracks behind him, CEO Alan Shaw talked about the railroad’s latest project to help East Palestine following the Feb. 3 derailment – a $20 million commitment to build, equip and fund the continual operation of the First Responder Training Center.

Shaw and local and state government officials broke ground Thursday at the site, which is on the property of the former JaSar Recycling businesses between the railroad tracks, Park Avenue and West Taggart Street and visible from the West Street bridge. READ

Koch Construction Overcomes New Challenges

Joe Koch Jr. and Joe Koch Sr. stand outside the headquarters of Joe Koch Construction.

Much has changed in the construction industry in the nearly 40 years since Joe Koch Sr. founded his business. But many of the most significant ups and downs have occurred in the past 15 years.

“The market is so tough right now,” Koch says. He remains president of Joe Koch Construction in Austintown.

Koch, who runs the business with his son, vice president Joe Koch Jr., says the current market for homebuilders is busy but challenging. READ

Roundtable Transcript: As Marketing Evolves, They Keep Up

Roundtable participants are, from left, Adrienne Sabo, creative director of Clever; Rebecca Bayley, consultant at Pecchia Communications; Cailyn Chrystal, director of operations and client services, 898 Marketing; Steve Cross, CEO of iSynergy; Jeff Hedrich, owner of Prodigal Co.; and George Farris, CEO of Farris Marketing.

The Business Journal conducted a roundtable on marketing Aug. 22 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Canfield. Here’s what local marketing experts had to say. READ

Group Shares $40M Plan for Warren Family Fitness Property

Christopher Smythe, president and CEO of Smythe Property Advisors, speaks during a news conference Thursday.

More than 100 market-rate apartments could be available in downtown Warren in 2026 if plans outlined Thursday morning come to fruition.

Christopher Smythe, president and CEO of Smythe Property Advisors in Cleveland and manager of Valley Properties Investment, offered an anticipated groundbreaking at the end of 2024 for a proposed $40 million renovation/demolition project at the former Warren YMCA building.

Representatives of Valley Properties Investment and Warren Family Fitness, which operate in the former YMCA building, outlined the project during a Thursday morning news conference. READ

Technology Is a Soothing Tool for Autism at Sophia’s Place

Genevieve Goings, who was the star of Disney Jr.’s children’s music show “Choo Choo Soul,” demonstrates a music wall for adults on the autism spectrum at The Carousel Center in Austintown.

As the father of a young woman with autism, Scott Austalosh has learned much about the condition and how to help people who are on the spectrum.

After two years of effort, his goal of creating an innovative calming space has become a reality in Austintown.

On Monday, Austalosh and Disney star Genevieve Goings opened Sophia’s Place, a quiet room with touch-activated sound buttons on the walls that allows each user to adjust their environment. It’s a first-of-its-kind project that could now be duplicated and customized in other locations. READ

Other Top Stories

Serving Strong Makes Fourth Quarter Count
WRPA Receives $8M to Resurface YARS Taxiway
Youngstown Symphony Orchestra Preps for the Future
Skilled Trades Expo Opens Eyes to Opportunities
Journal Opinion: Repopulating Our Valley
Report Shows Job Growth in Ohio’s Clean Energy Sector
WRPA OKs $17M in Bonds for Columbiana Senior Center
United Way Breaks Ground on $3M Volunteer Resource Center
Oh-Penn Initiative Lands $950K Grant for Workforce Development
Court Corrects Error in MS Consultants Lawsuit Against Chill-Can
YSU Workforce and Education Officials Highlight Opportunities
Green Township Residents Voice Opposition to $150M Solar Farm
Egg Drop Challenge Gives Students a Crack at Physics
Ownership of FNB Building Transferred to NJ Group
‘Little Shop of Horrors’ Opens for Business at Playhouse

From Around Ohio

Consortium Led by Ohio Awarded Hub Designation, $24M in Funding
Duplicative, Unnecessary Language Removed from Ohio Building Codes
AAA to Enhance Roadside Services Using Apple Satellites
New Business Filings in Ohio Increase in August
Ohio Launches Historical Underground Railroad Trail

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