Chicken Farm or TJX? Most-Read Story in 2018

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Without a doubt, the will-they-won’t-they saga of The TJX Companies’ plans to build a distribution center in Lordstown was our the No. 1 story our online readers followed. 2018.

And the most-read story – by far – was about the land they wanted to use and the farmer who owned. In late April, Harvey Lutz put down stakes and a big pile of chicken manure and told The Business Journal that if opponents drove TJX out of Lordstown, he would build two chicken barns instead.

“They want agriculture on this land and that’s what I’m planning to do if TJX doesn’t buy it,” Lutz said of his 121 acres, the second-largest parcel at the TJX site, which was zoned residential/agricultural.

The story got nearly triple the views of the No. 2 story in 2018.

Opponents of the project said they didn’t want Lutz’s land rezoned to industrial, citing the large industrial properties elsewhere in the village that TJX could use. For its part, the company said it was dead set on the parcel adjacent to Interstate 80. Planning and design work is advancing on the distribution center, which is expected to employ 1,000 by 2024.

Overall, four stories about TJX ranked in our Top 18, more than any other topic: Anthony Cafaro Jr.’s criticism of Lordstown officials (read), TJX’s reassessment of its plans after pushback from residents in March (read) and the initial announcement of the $160 million distribution center (read).

Lutz’s land is within eyeshot of the General Motors Lordstown Complex, which was the subject of our No. 2 story: the news that GM CEO Mary Barra wouldn’t commit to keeping production at the plant here. Just a few days earlier, on June 22, GM announced it would manufacture the new Chevrolet Blazer at the Ramos Arzipe plant in Mexico. That news came out the same day the second shift ended at the Lordstown Complex.

The story was the fever pitch of speculation that GM had plans to put the 52-year-old plant on the chopping block, a suspicion that was confirmed Nov. 26, when the Detroit-based manufacturer announced production at three North American plants would end in March. The announcement ranked No. 14 on our most-read list.

Our No. 3 story was actually published in 2017, albeit late in the year. A piece posted Dec. 22, 2017, by Jackie Stewart of Energy In Depth highlighted oil and gas industry developments in Belmont and Jefferson counties.

Following on the list was confirmation by MS Consultants that it was cooperating in a corruption probe related to development projects and two former Youngstown city officials (read), a piece from our July edition about Pittsburgh International Airport’s $1.1 billion modernization project (read) and the beginning of construction at the $863 million Hickory Run power plant in New Castle, Pa. (read).

Two other stories related to the corruption probe made the Top 18:

  • B&B Alleges Former President Took Kickbacks (read).
  • City Records Shed Light on Companies Caught Up in Corruption Probe (read).

Rounding out the Top 18 were stories about health care and recreation:

  • Salem Regional Joins Mercy Health’s Clinically Integrated Network (read).
  • Avalon to Convert Boardman Tennis Center into Athletic Club (read).

Rankings were determined by page views as tracked by Google Analytics and other sources.

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