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Shenango Chamber Honors Businesses with Phoenix Awards

SHARON, Pa. — The Shenango Valley is alive, well and growing stronger. That was the theme voiced Thursday by Robert McCracken, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce.

McCracken addressed a “record crowd” of 200 at the seventh annual Phoenix awards held at the Corinthian. “It’s an opportunity to showcase a number of our employers in the market,” he said.

McCracken pointed to the seven honored as examples of the strength of the Shenango Valley’s rebounding economy and its diversity.

“It really is a great sampling,” he said of the six businesses and one nonprofit that received awards. “The one common trait among everyone being honored here is they’re all entrepreneurs.”

The Phoenix awards were created in 2009 as a way to recognize companies growing in Mercer County.

McCracken also pointed to the activities going on just outside the banquet hall doors as proof of the economic strides the Valley is making.

Directly across the street, Primary Health Network is constructing a five-story building that will become its corporate headquarters. When the 78,000-square-foot structure is complete next year, it will be the tallest building in the city.

“They’re building the first high-rise building in more than 50 years in downtown Sharon,” McCracken said of the project. Construction includes a walkway that will connect to an adjacent parking deck.

“You go around the corner and Ellwood Crankshaft is investing $80 million building the largest crankshaft press in the world,” he added.

That project, on Sharpsville Avenue in the old Westinghouse building, is expected to begin operations this year. Soon the company will lay the foundation for the press that will arrive in June or July.

“They’re going to run 18 cement trucks an hour for 24-hours because they can’t have a seam in the cement,” McCracken noted.

Once it’s up and running, the press will manufacture crankshafts used in the engines of ocean liners. The project is expected to create 75 jobs.

This time last year Reinhardt’s Insurance was putting the finishing touches on its new building. The 6,000-square-foot structure consolidated several offices under one roof and earned the company the Shenango Chamber’s Phoenix Award for beautification and community pride.

“It’s got a little bit of a residential feel with some New England/Jersey Shore-type charm,” said company President Ryan Tyson. “We took an existing property and turned it into what it is today.”

The company has enjoyed rapid growth over the past decade, acquiring four agencies in the last seven years. Reinhardt’s was founded in 1904.

Tyson says the million-dollar project is an investment in his company’s future and “also an investment back into the community that’s served us so well over the years.”

Receiving the award for growth in the large-service category was Juniper Village at the Shenango Inn.

“We service elderly adults who need assistance with activities for daily living,” said Christa Cicuto, Juniper community relations director. “When we started in 1988 it was just a vision. There was only one Juniper.”

Today the company has 18 communities, or “junipers,” in four states. The Sharon site has been in operation since 1988 and is home to 80 residents. It employs 48.

Also receiving awards:

  • Elements Salon & Spa as the new-business startup.
  • Thyme in Your Kitchen, entrepreneur.
  • Autosoft Inc. for innovation.
  • Donna’s Diner for growth-small service.
  • Prince of Peace in the no-profit/service.

During yesterday’s ceremonies, the graduates of the 2015 class of Leadership Shenango were recognized. More than 450 have gone through the program since it started 21 years ago, organizers said.

Pictured: Ryan Tyson, president of Reinhardt’s Insurance, accepts the Phoenix Award for beautification and community pride from Robert McCracken, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.