Port Authority Shares Plan for Aviation Training Center

WARREN, Ohio – Officials with the Western Reserve Port Authority shared plans to develop facilities at Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to accommodate growing interest in aircraft maintenance and the new flight school programs at the airport.

Announcement of the proposed YNG Aviation Training Center came during the monthly meeting of the port authority’s board of directors Friday afternoon. Held at Covelli Enterprises, the meeting was attended by five of the six members of the boards of commissioners of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, who received an update on WRPA’s activities.   

Funds are being sought for the building, which would cost approximately $4 million, said Anthony Trevena, WRPA executive director. Randy Partika, project manager and development engineer, put the total cost for the project at $9 million, including costs to move utility lines and relocate the airport’s fuel farm.  

The training center was one of the proposed projects that came out of a strategic planning and development analysis conducted for the airport, said Krista Beniston, planning manager for the port authority. The new building would be between 10,000 and 12,000 square feet.

The building would be divided mostly between the flight school that launched earlier this year and Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, which has maintained a branch campus at the airport since 2006.

Both pilots and airplane mechanics are in high demand. Joe DeRamo, PIA Youngstown Campus director, reported that 99% of its students are placed in jobs within 30 days of graduation.

“I’ve been inundated with emails and phone calls for students that want to become part of the program,” said Joe Maxin, the port authority’s director of compliance and lead instructor at the flight school. The ground school is in its seventh week, and its second cohort is scheduled to begin in June.   

Other Projects

Trevena also reported that dynamic compaction work has been completed at the 560-acre site in Trumbull County that Kimberly-Clark Corp. purchased from the port authority in December for more than $9.9 million.  

The consumer paper products manufacturer has spent more than $3 million on site preparation, Trevena estimated. “They’ll be hopefully rolling out what their plans are in the near future,” he said.

Sarah Lown, public finance manager of the port authority, told meeting attendees the last of the buildings at the Mahoning Valley Campus of Care in Austintown has been committed. The building will be used to house senior citizens with special needs.

“So now we have everyone from Head Start to seniors, which was our goal all along,” she said.

In addition, Lown reported on progress with the properties the port authority acquired from Steward Health Care. A groundbreaking event is expected in the near future at a long-vacant former Belmont Avenue grocery store building, which is being repurposed as a Mahoning County veterans services center that will provide complementary services to those offered at the nearby Carl Nunziato VA Clinic.

Also, four of the Gypsy Lane properties that were included among the group of properties the port authority acquired from Steward are headed toward some form of reuse, she said. Also addressing the meeting were representatives of various regional partners, including the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

“As we’re sitting here, you hear everybody working together. And that’s how we’re going to get where we need to be – real efficient working together,” said Jim Kinnick, Eastgate executive director.  

The commissioners attending the Friday afternoon meeting – Anthony Traficanti, David Ditzler and Carol Rimedio-Righetti from Mahoning County and Niki Frenchko and Denny Malloy from Trumbull County – largely appeared pleased with the progress being reported.

“You look at the magnitude of what’s coming here,” Traficanti said. The Kimberly-Clark project “is going to be a huge factor not only for Trumbull County. Mahoning County is going to benefit from that, too,” he added.

“It is important to realize it is important to work together,” Ditzler said. “We may not always see eye to eye, but we can always give our opinion to each other so that we see things in a different light, because at the end of the day, none of us have a patent on good ideas.”

Malloy urged the assembled officials to not overlook agriculture in the two counties.

“We’ve got more than 1,100 family farms in Trumbull County,” he said. In addition, he pointed out that less than 20% of the participants in fishing tournaments on Mosquito Lake live in Trumbull County, and the lifestyle offered here could be used to attract more people to live here.

Frenchko lamented that transportation isn’t being addressed in economic development discussions and urged the economic development partners to pressure her board of commissioners to join the Western Reserve Transit Authority, which provides mass and specialized transit services in Mahoning County.

“We need to regionalize that. That is the missing link,” she said. She also bemoaned that poor planning has led to houses being demolished in Trumbull County, reducing the available housing stock.   

Rimedio-Righetti lauded the role being paid by local business leaders such as those who make up the port authority board. She also agreed with Frenchko on the need for a regional transit authority, as well as the expansion of the local health care system beyond the existing services and providers.

“You can only do so many surgeries at Southwoods and Mercy. I don’t want to have to drive to Cleveland,” she said. “You’re going to build economic development. We’re going to find more people. We’re going to have everything we need to have in Mahoning County and Trumbull County in housing, but how are we going to take care of them when they’re not healthy?”

Pictured at top: WRPA Executive Director Anthony Trevena briefs members of the port authority’s board of directors and commissioners from Mahoning and Trumbull counties on the proposed aviation training center.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.