Awards & Events

Joy Cone Expansion Highlights Shenango Chamber Event

HERMITAGE, Pa. – Joy Cone Co. will mark its centennial with the opening of a new plant next to its plant on Lamor Road, David George said Tuesday morning.

It will manufacture cookie-type products used as ingredients in products such as ice cream, George, president and CEO of Joy Cone, said at Avalon at Buhl.

George was among more than a dozen speakers who addressed a range of subjects from capital improvements and business expansions to new programs at this year’s Shenango Valley Forecast Breakfast. Topics included business development, quality of life, health care, education and the arts.

Joy Cone’s addition of a 120,000-square-foot plant was spurred by its purchase of Iowa-based BoDeans Banking Group in 2016. Where Joy Cone’s emphasis has been in the retail and grocery business, that of BoDean’s has been industrial customers.

The company manufactures products such as the sugar cones used in Drumsticks as well as cookie pieces used in ice cream, he said.

When it became apparent BoDeans needed to expand its capacity to meet increased customer demand, Joy Cone management chose to situate the second plant near the Joy Cone headquarters.

“We wanted to be closer to our customers,” George said. “Our other plant is in Le Mars, Iowa. This one is in Hermitage, Pa., so we can cover the eastern half of the United States.”

Joy Cone, which broke ground on the new plant last July, expects it to be operational by mid-May, George said. His company is spending more than $20 million on the expansion, which George expects to employ 10 to 15 at the outset and expand to 25 during its first year. “Basically, this is a startup,” he remarked.

In recognition of the company’s 100th anniversary, the company will donate $100,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“There’s really a lot of great news happening in 2018. The Joy Cone expansion is going to be a really big deal for this area,” Sherris Moreira, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber, said.

Randy Seitz, president and CEO of Penn-Northwest Development Corp., gave an update on the leads his organization is pursuing, including one that involves a site visit underway as he spoke.

“We have a group of investors from China who are looking to establish a very large server farm for cryptocurrency mining,” he reported.

One driving force behind the site search is China’s ban on cryptocurrency because of concerns that it could affect the county’s own currency. When the investors began their search a month ago, they were interested in a site of just under 10,000 square feet, Seitz said. “Today we’re talking 50,000 square feet, and it could grow to double that in a couple of months,” he said.

Such server farms require people trained to program, maintain and service computers. “Every minute that one of these servers is down costs them a ton of money,” he said.

The Chinese investors represented just one of the eight site visits generated from 89 leads since July, Seitz said. Another prospect Penn-Northwest is working with is a firm that slits metal coils while yet another is a company involved in the bottled water industry.

The agency is pursuing end users for the output of the proposed ethane cracker plant in the region, Seitz said.

One way the chamber is trying to help incoming businesses get acquainted with the community is through its new “community concierge” program, Moreira said.

Many newcomers don’t immediately recognize that the Shenango Valley is composed of 12 municipalities, which can make finding and connecting with local resources difficult, she said. The goal is to “come up with ways to make it easier for them to figure this area out and also to connect to other business people,” she said.

“We’re going to be doing a lot more networking events and a lot more programming that will help people learn the area better and also just to make friends,” she said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.