Kimberly-Clark Land Sale Tops 2023 at WRPA

By Anthony Trevena
Executive Director

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Western Reserve Port Authority advanced its mission to create a portfolio of development-ready sites in Mahoning and Trumbull counties this past year. The highlight came with the sale of 560 acres of the former BDM site in Trumbull County to Kimberly-Clark, a major manufacturer of personal care products. This promises to bring many new jobs and spinoff opportunities.

The port staff worked to overcome many challenges to make this happen. It is like buying any fixer-upper. No one can predict what will crop up. Utility services at the site had to be assessed, environmental issues cleaned up, easement access cleared, mineral rights secured, and much more. The port’s unique public-private position enables it to secure grants and leverage funding sources in order to reduce development costs.

The port has a track record of purchasing vacant and abandoned properties and placing them back into productive use. This is our way of helping to create more jobs and economic opportunities for residents.

In Mahoning County, the former Bernard Auto Parts store became Voyager Beverages; adjacent to that, the newly refurbished Trek Coffee House is a destination. Previously the port refurbished the Harshman Building in downtown Youngstown and constructed a Dunkin’ Donuts on a vacant site. There is a pipeline of similar properties in both counties owned by the port and its partners poised for redevelopment.

The port invested heavily in property acquisition and improvement in 2023. Sites like the old McGuffey property on the East Side of Youngstown and the old Deemer Park on the West Side of Warren are in the pipeline. Through a partnership with the Steward Health Care system, the port is acquiring a portfolio of properties that have fallen into disuse. With investment and sweat equity, they will become growth opportunities.

In 2024, the port plans to make significant investments and improvements to the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. The port received an $8,028,000 federal grant and $3 million state and $5 million federal earmark, contributing to over $22 million investment in the airport. This will go toward resurfacing the main runway and adjacent taxiway, which is critical to support operations at the airport and the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Plans are underway to create an educational campus for pilot and mechanic training. This initiative will help the next generation of Valley residents become professionals in piloting aircraft, aviation mechanics and advanced air mobility. And it will lead to another arena for economic growth.

Transformation happens gradually, one site at a time in key corridors, like Mahoning Avenue, Gypsy Lane and Main Street in Warren. But it is happening. Whether it comes from sale of properties, grants or government contracts, the port reinvests any new revenues back into the Mahoning Valley.

The Western Reserve Port Authority was created in 1992 by the Mahoning and Trumbull County commissioners. It employs 21 staff at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport and in the economic development division in downtown Youngstown. 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.