Meijer Director Addresses Opening Plan for Boardman Store

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Meijer will announce a grand opening date for its new Boardman store probably six weeks out from that date, store director Dessie Szklany said Friday morning.

The Boardman Meijer store is one of three that the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer is opening this year, she said at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Good Morning, Mahoning County breakfast. She was among several speakers at the event, held at Stambaugh Auditorium.

Inquiries about the expected opening date for the store are “the No. 1 question” Szklany gets, she acknowledged. “I have it asked to me about 17 times a day,” she said. Despite the outward appearance of the U.S. Route 224 building, much construction remains to be completed on the interior. Hiring is underway for the store, which is expected to employ 300, and the company has been recruiting at Youngstown State University this week, she said.

The family-run retail chain, which is in its third generation of family ownership, has grown to 256 stores with 70,000 employees, she said. It began as a grocery and pioneered the supercenter concept in 1962.

“So you can get your apples in produce and you can get your Apple products in electronics,” she said.

Dessie Szklany, store director for Meijer, speaks at Good Morning, Mahoning County.

Szklany and two area natives who will be joining the staff of the Boardman Meijer were among several speakers at the breakfast event, which just over 140 chamber members and guests attended, the chamber reported. The program also featured updates on upcoming area road projects and remarks from chamber officials, event sponsors and Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.

Mahoning County Engineer Patrick Ginnetti reported on nearly $40 million in upcoming projects, including the widening of Western Reserve Road to three lanes, with two through lanes and a dual left-turn lane.

The $8.6 million first phase of the Western Reserve Road work, which will involve the stretch from Hitchcock Road to just east of Market Street, will begin sometime this year, he reported. The second phase, which is from Market Street to South Avenue, is estimated at $9.4 million and is expected to get under way in 2023.

The projects will increase traffic flow, minimize disruption and backups, and open the corridor for growth and development, Ginnetti said. A $20 million sanitary sewer line project to that will pump additional flow to the Boardman treatment plant, which was upgraded, also will provide sanitary sewer access to areas where it is not available, expanding opportunities for development.

A $1.2 million safety upgrade project at the intersection of Market Street and Indianola Road in Boardman will involve the conversion of Brookwood Road to a cul de sac, which will allow traffic at that intersection to flow more quickly, said Jim Kinnick, executive director of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. A $12.2 million safety project planned for fall 2024 on Route 224 from Market Street to Interstate 680 also is intended to improve traffic flow.

Further down the road, a $65 million reconstruction of I-680 is planned for a summer 2026 start, he said.

Speakers from Meijer included Szklany, meat team lead Chris Wilson and Eric Sklenar, pharmacy team lead.

Chamber officials noted that the 2020 Good Morning, Mahoning County breakfast was the last event it hosted before restrictions on public gatherings were put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and evidence of the changes caused by the pandemic could be seen at Friday’s event. Servers prepared guests’ plates behind plastic shields and microphones were swapped out as each new speaker took the podium.

COVID 19 has “harshly upended our lives but hope is around the corner,” Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti.

“We innovated and we persevered and we just didn’t give up,” he said.

Over the past year, Mahoning County distributed more than one million pieces of personal protective equipment, he reported. Utilizing $14 million received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the county provided $3.5 million in pandemic assistance to businesses, assisted local nonprofits and provided support for public health and safety.

Traficanti also briefly addressed this week’s announcement that Macy’s Inc. would invest $29.9 million and add 417 jobs in its Bailey Road distribution center to provide fulfillment services.

“That whole Bailey Road corridor is ripe for development,” he said.

While many would like to forget most of the past 12 months, one “very shining moment” of the past year was the chamber’s Columbus Drive-in, said Guy Coviello, the chamber’s incoming president and CEO. The lobbying event helped secure $3.7 million in state capital budget for local projects.

Funding for local arts organizations represented 36% of those funds, which was important because the arts community was “particularly hard hit” by the pandemic, said Jo Ann Stock, Stambaugh Auditorium chief development officer.

JoAnn Stock, chief development officer for Stambaugh Auditorium and DeYor Performing Arts Center.

Stambaugh Auditorium, one of the event’s sponsors, received $350,000 in state capital funds to support its $5 million renovation project, which will include replacement of the building’s monumental exterior staircase and promenade, new lighting and other exterior and interior upgrades.

Matt Pagac, chief executive and operating officer for Stambaugh Auditorium and DeYor Performing Arts center, which Stambaugh recently took over management of, greeted new state guidelines that permit 25% capacity for sports and entertainment venues. That puts capacity at nearly 600 patrons, which makes commencements and other events easier to make happen, he said.

The recent Valentine’s Day concert went well and 13 of the next 18 weekends are booked, he said. “We’re really excited with what we’re seeing,” he remarked.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.