Economic Development

Regional Chamber Reports $97M in Trumbull Investments

WARREN, Ohio – Since the start of 2017, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber has facilitated more than 100 development projects in Trumbull County, with plenty more in the pipelines,  especially with the advancement of The TJX Companies’ distribution center in Lordstown.

As part of the chamber’s contract with Trumbull County to spearhead economic development efforts in the county, the chamber’s president and CEO, James Dignan, and vice president of economic development Sarah Boyarko updated the county commissioners Tuesday regarding projects in the county.

Over the past 20 months, datingto the beginning of 2017, the chamber has been the lead agency on 13 new investments in Trumbull County totaling $97 million, as well as 88 retention and expansion projects from area companies.

Among the major projects Boyarko and Dignan pointed to were Anderson-DuBose’s $13 million expansion in Lordstown, which created 30 jobs and retained 194, Ohio Star Forge’s $4.8 million expansion in Champion Township that will bring seven new jobs and keep 117 more, and Generations Behavioral Health’s purchase of a building in Liberty Township for $12 million that will create more than 70 new jobs.

“That investment is industrial in nature, almost all of it with some in transportation and distribution,” Boyarko told the commissioners. “When we hear people say manufacturing is dead in the Mahoning Valley, we can prove that otherwise.”

In total, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber is working on $2 billion in pending projects, she continued, include 16 projects in Trumbull County.

“There’s over $2 billion in the works. Billion. With a B. And a vast majority of that is in Trumbull County,” Dignan said. “Historically, when you look at the past 25 years and what the chamber has done, a large majority of that is in Trumbull County.”

And, the two noted, even more will be in the works following the approval of a referendum to rezone seven parcels of land in Lordstown so TJX can build a $160 million distribution center that would bring an estimated 1,000 jobs.

“Right now, we’re working quite a few projects that were already considering our market and they’re definitely paying attention to the vote,” Boyarko said after the meeting. “I know for a fact that there will be additional investment as a result of TJX locating here. And not only from companies that pay attention to the them in the industry – the companies that would follow them around and jump on their coattails in doing due diligence – but also from suppliers that work with them.”

The chamber is still awaiting word of a decision regarding the East Coast Missile Defense, of which Camp Ravenna is a finalist, alongside Fort Drum in New York and Fort Custer in Michigan.

Dignan pointed out Camp Ravenna has access to more tradesmen than the other two sites – Camp Ravenna has 60,000 within 60 miles, while Fort Drum has 1,500 and Fort Custer 15,000 – as well as a better capability to bring in materials both during and after construction, due to the nearby interstates and the Port of Cleveland.

“Not only that, we have the rebar, we have the gravel and we have everything we need through access to the Port of Cleveland,” he said. “If you want to get it done cost effectively and on time, this is the place to do it.”

In mid-June, the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission was told a decision would be coming soon, but no announcement has been made, Dignan said. If Camp Ravenna is selected, it would have an impact “we can’t even quantify today.

“Granted, only the front gate is in Trumbull County, but the whole missile defense project – really, anything else there – will affect us here,” he said. “A ‘small’ project of $3 billion to $5 billion will be life changing for people living in the Valley. To get 600 to 800 rocket scientists and engineers moving to our Valley will have a transformative effect.”

The two chamber representatives also detailed the results of the Columbus Drive-In event earlier this year. Of the eight groups that lobbied for state funding during the trip in February, six were funded, including two in Trumbull County: Weathersfield Township was awarded $150,000 for a multijurisdictional center and Eastwood Field was awarded $200,000 for upgrades to the stadium.

All in all, county commissioners seemed pleased with the work of the chamber over the past 20 months. Commissioner Daniel Polivka particularly noted the assistance of chamber staff that have worked with the county government as part of the 12-month, $23,000 economic development contract.

“The relationship and partnership between the chamber and Trumbull County is probably the best it’s ever been,” he said. “We’re getting our bang for our buck.”

Added Commissioner Mauro Cantalamessa, “The new hires that come to meetings are fabulous. They’re young, they’re energetic and they have great ideas.”

Pictured: Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber vice president of economic development Sarah Boyarko, center, updates Trumbull County Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa, Frank Fuda and Daniel Polivka on the agency’s efforts over the past year.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.