Economic Development

Ryan: ‘All Hands On Deck’ In Search for New TJX Site

CANFIELD, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13, told reporters Saturday that TJX Companies Inc. is spending this weekend scouting other sites in the Mahoning Valley that might be suitable for a construction of a $160 million HomeGoods Distribution center.

“I want to let the community know that we are all hands on deck,” Ryan said during a press conference outside the Kennsington Golf Club. “This is not over, and we’re going to try and make the case that the this Valley is a great place to do business.”

Ryan said the company was working through the weekend to examine other potential sites in the Mahoning Valley to build a 1.2 million square-foot distribution center that is likely to create 1,000 jobs.

“They are exploring sites as we speak,” Ryan told reporters. “They’re working through the weekend at my encouragement to make something happen here.”

TJX is the parent for TJ Maxx, Homegoods and Marshalls retail stores, all of which have a presence in the Mahoning Valley.

Initially, TJX Homegoods had identified 290 acres in Lordstown along Ellsworth Bailey Road as the best site, given its agreeable freeway access and wide truck lanes. However, opposition from nearby residents led the company to withdraw its application Friday to rezone the property industrial and consider other options.

Ryan said he was discouraged with the news Friday and had never witnessed a community so disappointed about missing out on such an opportunity

The company is likely looking at a handful of sites, some of which are in Lordstown. “They’re interested in exploring every option here. We’ve built a great rapport with the company over the past few months and we’re continuing to pursue it,” he said. “We’re going to stay on it.”

The congressman said he has been in communication with company executives “multiple times a day” over the last several days in order to facilitate the project. Ryan said the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the state of Ohio, local officials and his office are working closely to find a site – and expressed a sense of urgency to move the project forward.

TJX, he noted, is following a strict timeline, and could not delay the project further, Ryan said. Lordstown’s zoning and planning commission was to consider TJX’s rezoning application at its meeting on Wednesday.

Had the zoning change been approved, those residents who opposed the project site vowed to place the issue on the ballot. Since Lordstown is a village and doesn’t have the power to hold a special election, the issue couldn’t go before voters until November, and that didn’t comply with TJX’s timeline.

“That’s what ultimately killed the deal,” Ryan said.

Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill is confident that were the referendum held today, that it would easily pass in favor or rezoning. “But, it’s a moot point.”

The mayor also noted he wasn’t pleased with comments from Anthony Cafaro Jr., co-president of The Cafaro Co. of Niles, who on Friday sent a blistering letter addressed to Lordstown elected officials criticizing them of caving in to “opposition and threats of a few narrow-minded individuals.” READ LETTER

Hill said that few people know the facts behind this project, and that he has worked diligently to see it through. “We’re not out of the mix yet. I’m still working hard, and until they tell me they’re putting that project somewhere else, I’ll still be working on it,” he said Saturday.

James Dignan, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said that at first, the company was presented with “dozens” of options for the project. “There were probably eight to 10 in Lordstown, and another 20 or more across the Valley.”

The process started about two years ago, Dignan noted. Ultimately, TJX narrowed its scope and opted for the land along Ellsworth Bailey Road. “It was near the interstate, it had all the utilities – they thought it was perfect.”

Dignan said the Chamber is working with TJX to take a long look at other sites in the region. “We’re working to keep this project in the Valley.”

Ryan emphasized that TJX is working in “great faith” with the region. “They want to be in this area, and we’re trying to give them every opportunity they can to locate here. Hopefully in the next few days we can have some news that is positive.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.