R&L Carriers Eyes $20M Expansion in Columbiana

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Pending a final vote from city council Tuesday, R&L Carriers looks to construct a $20 million expansion at its Heck Road shipping hub in Columbiana.

Since 1993, R&L has operated its 204-door terminal in the city, operating three shifts with more than 600 trucks coming in and out of the terminal daily, says Lance Willard, city manager for Columbiana. The expansion at the 63-acre terminal will add 80 new dock doors, two shop bays and 2,400 square feet of office space. It will also repave the lot and add more paved parking.

“It’s already the biggest building in the city,” Willard said. “This is going to make it a third bigger than it already is.”

The company employs some 280 full time and 60 part-time employees, and the expansion will add another 60 jobs over the next five years, 50 of which will pay about $60,000 annually plus benefits, Willard says. New hires will add $5 million in annual salary and benefits to the company’s $22 million payroll, he says.

The cost of the physical expansion will be about $10 million with another $10 million in equipment.

When the city first met with R&L in May, officials learned that Columbiana was on the shortlist of areas for getting the project, Willard says. To the city, it was as much of a retention project as it was an expansion, he says.

“We found out we made the top four or five they were looking at,” he says. “We worked very hard to retain them and make sure they go through with the expansion. A small community like this having a business like that leave would be terrible.”

To accommodate the expansion, the city returned less than an acre of land to R&L that the company had donated to the city in 1993, Willard says. “We donated it back to them,” he says.

“We’ve been aware of this project for a long time,” he adds. “In June or July, we did the process of getting the property over to them.”

Requests for comment from R&L had not been returned at press time. R&L was founded in 1965 by Ralph “Larry” Roberts Sr., who had a single truck he used to deliver furniture, according to the company’s website. Today, the company serves all 50 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic.

A prime selling point for the project is the Community Reinvestment Area legislation the city voted to approve in September 2018. Through the CRA, the city looks to offer R&L a 100% tax abatement for 15 years on new construction and a 100% abatement for 12 years on remodeling work on the existing property, Willard says.

R&L is the fifth commercial project in the city to benefit from the CRA legislation, Willard says. Other companies taking advantage of CRA include:

  • CM6: Piledriving equipment service provider, $1.185 million investment will create four jobs. Company is receiving 75% tax abatement for 10 years.
  • ABL Wholesale Distributors Inc.: Distribution service provider, $13.975 million investment will create 83 full-time jobs. Company is receiving 100% tax abatement for 15 years on new construction and a 100% abatement for 12 years on remodeling work.
  • C. Tucker Cope & Associates: Engineering and construction company, $770,000 investment to build a 14,400-square-foot building and create one job. Company is receiving a 100% abatement for 15 years.
  • KDC Properties: Property management company, $4.8 million project to build 12 triplexes. Company is receiving 50% abatement for 12 years.

On Feb. 25, the board members for Columbiana Exempted Village School District approved the abatement for R&L. City Council will vote on the abatement at its March 3 meeting at 7 p.m. at city hall.

Image: R&L Carriers Media Kit

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