Regional Chamber Recaps 2023, Previews 2024

CANFIELD, Ohio – Ultium Cells in Lordstown will become the largest employer in Trumbull County later this year, Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber President and CEO Guy Coviello forecast Wednesday morning at the organization’s annual meeting.

At the meeting of members and supporters at Waypoint 4180, Coviello reviewed Regional Chamber accomplishments in 2023 and talked about future plans. The chamber is restructuring to play an even larger role in creating the right environment “for our region’s continued economic success,” he said.

Looking back at 2023, one of the major accomplishments is a Kimberly-Clark manufacturing plant planned at the former BDM Steel property in Trumbull County. Last December, the Western Reserve Port Authority approved the sale of 560 acres to the company, which manufactures brands including Kleenex, Scott, Huggies, Kotex and Cottonelle.

Looking at 2024, Icelandair will establish operations at the Pittsburgh airport next month, creating supply chain opportunities for businesses in the Mahoning, Shenango and Beaver valleys, Coviello said.

“This summer our news will be christening new C-130 J model aircraft – an investment of hundreds of millions in our community, an investment that protects Trumbull County’s biggest employer, the Youngstown Air Reserve Station,” he said. 

And later this year, Ultium Cells in Lordstown will replace the air reserve station as the largest employer in Trumbull County. 

“The first time in many, many years that a private-sector, tax-paying company again holds that distinction,” Coviello said.

Regarding the Regional Chamber Foundation, Coviello said top investors have helped it build a war chest totaling more than $714,000.

“Because of their generosity, we will make the first of several announcements about restructuring later this month when we will unleash a large portion of that war chest,” he said. Details will be forthcoming.

Chamber award winners were also announced at the annual meeting.

Youngstown native Gary Brantley, senior vice president and chief information officer for the National Football League, earned the Valley Champion Award, and he was the keynote speaker for the gathering.

Mahoning and Trumbull County commissioners received the Spirit of the Valley Award, and Phyliss Gastgeb, president of the Youngstown and Akron markets for iHeartMedia, won the Spirit of the Chamber Award.

Dana Balash, WFMJ sports director/anchor, served as master of ceremonies for the event and interviewed Gastgeb and Denny Malloy and Anthony Traficanti, Trumbull and Mahoning County commissioners, respectively.

Gary Brantley, a Youngstown native and the senior vice president and chief technology officer for the National Football League, talked about his career at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s annual meeting Wednesday.

Brantley grew up on the south side of Youngstown, graduating from Calvary Christian Academy and Youngstown State University.

He announced that he and his family have established a scholarship endowment at YSU for inner city students who want to study prelaw and computer science. He said he’s proud to help young students continue to succeed.

“Throughout my career, my family’s career, we’ve always taken the approach to give back, not just talk about it, but actually be about it,” Brantley said. 

He told attendees that technology runs throughout the NFL and is critical to the success of the game, from coaches communicating with each other and players, to officials communicating with each other, to chips in the shoulder pads, mouthpieces and football, to the equipment of the medical team. 

And that’s just what happens on game day. Human resources, operations and finance of the league also rely on technology.

The league also has plans for growth, he said.

“Flag football is something we’re really looking at to help with global expansion,” Brantley said. “That’s tremendous because now it provides equity across the board. It’s easy to play; it’s a development tool, and the NFL is investing to one day have this sport become one day where you can actually receive scholarships.”

Attendees at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s annual meeting Wednesday listen to Gary Brantley talk about his career.

Farmers National Bank was the breakfast sponsor for the meeting. HBK hosted the keynote presentation, and Jim Dascenzo, principal and certified public accountant for the company, interviewed Brantley for the event.

County commissioners received the Spirit of the Valley Award in recognition of their contributions to Valley Vision 2050. Each county contributed $1 million to the initiative composed of WRPA, Regional Chamber, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Valley Partners and the Youngstown Foundation. 

Malloy and Traficanti accepted the awards for their respective boards.

Malloy, who grew up in Mahoning County and now lives in Trumbull, said he’s come to realize “we’re stronger as a Valley than we are independently, especially when it comes to the industry, when it comes to the businesses.”

When the chamber approached commissions with the Valley Vision 2025 proposal, it was a no-brainer, he said. 

Traficanti agreed.

“We’re only as strong as the partnerships and the relationships that we have,” he said. “If we wouldn’t partner with Trumbull County, we would be doing a disservice to this entire region.”

Gastgeb earned the Spirit of the Chamber Award in acknowledgement of her working with the chamber. Chamber initiatives and programs have been highlighted on iHeartMedia programs.

“This Regional Chamber is exceptional,” Gastgeb said, calling it a gem. 

As she got more involved, she discovered how much the chamber means to the region.

“It’s the connector to everything, whether it’s business networking or community involvement or workforce development in government,” Gastgeb said. “We’ve got such a gem here, and it’s really been such an honor to be part of it.”

Other 2023 chamber highlights include the West Warren Industrial Park and Top Property Holdings, which broke ground. Xaloy, a polymer processor, announced a $7.4 million research and development center in Austintown. MAC Trailer Enterprises, a steel and aluminum trailer manufacturer, plans an expansion in Smith Township that will create 80 jobs. And Bral, a metal goods manufacturer, is completing construction of a facility in Champion, the second in the Valley.

Pictured at top: From left are Denny Malloy, Trumbull County commissioner; Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber; Phyliss Gastgeb, president of iHeartMedia, Youngstown and Akron markets; Anthony Traficanti, Mahoning County commissioner; and Gary Brantley, senior vice president and chief information officer of the National Football League.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.