MVEDC Is Now Valley Partners; Launches New Loan Fund

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In order to better identify and align itself with its mission and impact across the region, what was once the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. is now Valley Economic Development Partners.

The rebranding initiative and new name was announced Thursday morning at Valley Partners’ offices in Liberty Township.

“What we’ve really been thriving at is building those partnerships with all of our area banking institutions and economic development companies,” said Teresa Miller, executive director. 

Valley Partners was established in 1978 as the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. in the aftermath of the shutdown of Youngstown Sheet & Tube’s Campbell Works in 1977, Miller said. The organization was seeded with a $3.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to create a revolving loan fund to give businesses a boost as the crisis unfolded.

Since then, Miller says that the organization has provided more than $40 million in loans to various companies that have led to the retention of more than 2,000 jobs.

And, the organization has broadened its base from just the Mahoning Valley to include Ashtabula, Portage, Geauga and Columbiana counties in Ohio and counties in western Pennsylvania, Miller said. This factored in the decision to drop “Mahoning” from its new name, she said. 

Vice President Julie Michael Smith and Executive Director Teresa Miller, Valley Economic Development Partners

“Just the word ‘Valley’ seemed to make it a little more broad to show that we are expanding beyond the Mahoning Valley,” Miller noted.

The rebranding comes at a time when the country is facing another economic crisis precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced in Youngstown that the federal government would award Valley Partners a $5 million EDA grant drawn from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

Miller said the money would be used to create a new fund – the Valley Partners Revolving Loan Fund.  The organization works with area lenders, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the state of Ohio and regional development organizations to lend money to businesses looking to expand and compete.  

The new revolving loan fund would make available loans up to $250,000 to those companies in Mahoning and Trumbull counties adversely impacted by the pandemic, Miller said. Interest rates would vary depending on collateral and how the loan is used.

“We are very excited during these times when people are struggling to keep these doors open that we will have these funds available to our community,” she said. 

The loans could be used to purchase buildings, equipment and working capital, Miller said. “This will be able to help businesses keep their doors open, keep their employees on payroll, or if they had to shut their doors for some reason, bring those employees back on payroll.”

Valley Partners’ Vice President Julie Michael Smith said this new funding augments the already successful portfolio the organization had established as MVEDC.  In addition to assisting small business with capital, the organization developed two industrial parks in North Jackson and Warren, and successfully administered two short-line railroads in the Mahoning Valley.

“MVEDC has been in the unique position to respond to the economic needs of the community,” she said.  Armed with this new funding, “Valley Partners has been able to step in and fill that role.”

“There will be economic growth in our community again,” she continued. “I have no doubt that businesses that are struggling now will indeed thrive.”

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.