Government

Ryan Discusses Northside Options, Urges TJX Support

AUSTINTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said he wants to explore multiple options for Northside Regional Medical Center, including a possible veterans clinic and using the building for economic development purposes. 

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said this morning he would address the possibility of an expanded clinic to serve local veterans – a prospect President Donald Trump alluded to last year during a stop in Struthers – at Northside with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie.

Northside’s owner, Boston-based Steward Health Care System, announced last week that it would close the hospital in September.  

During the media availability, outside the Starbucks on Route 46 near Interstate 80, Ryan discussed possibilities for Northside as well as Tuesday’s referendum on zone changes in Lordstown that would accommodate the regional distribution center TJX Companies Inc. wants to build in the village. 

Ryan said he would contact the V.A. secretary this week to “explore opportunities” not limited to putting the proposed veterans clinic at Northside but also for other options as a veterans center there. 

“The government is always looking for other opportunities to do research with regard to our veterans and veterans’ health. Maybe that’s an opportunity there,” he said.

In addition, the congressman is putting together a “small community group” to explore other potential opportunities for Northside and will reach out to Silicon Valley business leaders “who are looking to do things and make investments in the Midwest about possible uses for the hospital.”

He pointed to quality-of-life amenities that might make the hospital campus attractive, including the nearby Jewish Community Center and Henry Stambaugh Municipal Golf Course.

In February, Ryan kicked off a “Comeback Cities Venture Capitalist Tour” showcasing Youngstown and other cities to a group of venture capitalists from Silicon Valley firms and other investment groups.

“Over the past 16 years, I’ve been able to make some contacts with people, and now it’s time to start driving that kind of investment into the community,” he said.

“This may be an opportunity for somebody. This facility costs a lot less than most facilities around the country would in some of the more expensive markets, so we’ll see what we can do.”

A Steward representative did not respond to a request for comment this morning regarding the Northside property.

In addition to talking to Steward officials about the Northside building, the congressman said he would work to ensure employees are taken care of. He said his office already has received calls from companies looking for nurses to fill positions they have.

“Hopefully, everybody can have as soft a landing as possible, and [we can] also try to create some opportunity, whether it’s for our veterans or just for economic growth and development,” he remarked.

This afternoon, ahead of tomorrow’s referendum, supporters of the TJX project will hold a get-out-the-vote rally at the United Auto Workers Local 1714 pavilion. Village voters will consider whether to uphold the rezoning, approved by Village Council in June.

Opportunities such as the TJX project, which promises 1,000 jobs when the center is fully operational, don’t come along often, Ryan said. “With all the uncertainty in the economy, this is a heck of an opportunity for us,” he said.

The company has “gone to great lengths” to accommodate the concerns of village residents by addressing water and buffer issues, as well as connecting with Youngstown State University on a logistics program and providing assistance to the village school district, Ryan said.

The congressman emphasized was on the phone with TJX officials multiple times daily in the weeks following the company’s apparent decision to pass on the Lordstown site.

“All the hay’s in the barn, as they like to say,” Ryan said. “Now it’s just time for the voters of Lordstown to go out and hopefully we’ll get a good decision on Tuesday night.”

Pictured: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.