Regional Chamber Welcomes the ‘New’ Auto Industry

By Tom Humphries, President & CEO Regional Chamber
In 2019, the Mahoning Valley experienced an evolution in one of its key industries, while preparing for the resurgence of an industry still in its infancy. As a result, 2020 and the years beyond look to be some of the most exciting yet for the Youngstown-Warren region.

Although General Motors shuttered its Lordstown Assembly Complex in March, we knew this vast, site-ready asset would not sit vacant for long.

Enter Lordstown Motors, which purchased the facility and looks to start building commercial electric pickup trucks later this year.

Add back into the equation GM, which formed a joint venture with LG Chem to invest up to $2.3 billion by 2023 and hire 1,100 people for the production of battery cells for electric vehicles at a new factory to be built near its former assembly plant this year – and I’d say our region is quickly on its way back up.

All of this good news has generated much excitement in our community, as Youngstown-Warren is once again poised to shine in the spotlight – this time for the opportunity to become a hub for the electric vehicle industry.

As an aside, within just three days of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s team announcing two supplier events we hosted for Lordstown Motors, more than 200 businesses had registered to attend.

The transportation industry, like many others, has been evolving over the years, and how quickly a community can recover from the ups and downs that may occur is significant.

We look forward to welcoming businesses in the electric vehicle industry to our Valley and showing them what we have in our workforce and our people – top reasons why businesses continue to locate in our region.
As we embrace the “new” auto industry, we’re also focusing on shale coming to the forefront again as Royal Dutch Shell’s petrochemical ethane cracker plant in Monaca, Pa., readies to begin operations.

Opportunities abound, and we should be looking at the users of the products coming out of the plant and inviting them to do business or locate here.

The Marcellus and Utica shale plays that lie beneath our region have a 200-year cycle. As we are about 10 years into that cycle, the Youngstown-Warren area is already home to more than 30% of all manufacturing in Ohio related to all segments of the industry, and there’s more to come.

As we look toward a future that is primed for much success, the Regional Chamber team will continue to assist businesses in other longtime key industries that have chosen to locate in the Mahoning Valley.

After assisting TJX officials for the past three years in securing a new home in Lordstown for its distribution center, we look forward to the opening this year. The retailer’s investment in our Valley was among nearly $225 million of total new investment in 2019. And the chamber’s economic development division is focused on more than $4.1 billion of pending investment in the next two years that will result in 2,270 new jobs.

Through our team’s advocating for Valley priorities, we were pleased when Gov. Mike DeWine allocated more than $3.6 million in the state’s 2020 operating budget for local initiatives.

These include revitalization of the Mahoning River, additive manufacturing and the region’s military installations: the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and Camp James A. Garfield Joint Military Training Center.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.