Economic Development

Trumbull Moves Forward Despite GM, Chamber Members Told

VIENNA, Ohio – As the region recovers from the sting of last week’s announcement that General Motors Co. would close its Lordstown manufacturing plant, officials made it a point Friday to emphasize that business is moving forward across Trumbull County.

Brownfield redevelopment, tens of millions of dollars in new investment, ambitious infrastructure improvements and high-tech applications in the defense industry are among those projects slated for next year, while the Youngstown Air Reserve Station remains a vital economic force throughout the Mahoning Valley.

That was the message at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Good Morning Trumbull County breakfast held at the air base.

A key economic development opportunity is the 1,100-acre site of the former RG Steel property, which was the heart of steel manufacturing in Warren under various names for 100 years, said Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer of the Regional Chamber.

“We had a national site selection group there yesterday,” she told a large crowd of business and community leaders.

Boyarko said about 250 acres of brownfield should be fully remediated in the coming months. Nearly 400 additional acres is uncontaminated, while the rest could be remediated at a later date.

She said the Regional Chamber has been working on and off with the company for several years and toured about 10 sites in Trumbull County yesterday. The tenant would be a large distribution operation with a manufacturing component that serves retail operations.

Meanwhile, work progresses on TJX Companies’ HomeGoods distribution facility intended for Lordstown, Boyarko said. “We’re going through the pre-construction phase now and we’re looking at an early 2019 groundbreaking,” she said.

The scope of the project has expanded from 1 million square-feet to 1.2 million, she said, and anticipates the number of jobs would exceed the company’s initial projection of 1,000 positions.

In all, Boyarko reported that the chamber has helped with $104 million worth of new development projects across Trumbull County in 2018. These efforts resulted in the creation of 221 jobs and 500 retained.

Over the next 12 to 24 months, Boyarko said, there is the potential to secure another $1.7 billion worth of new investment in the county. These projects would include the TJX facility and the $900 million Trumbull Energy Center, which is planned for Lordstown.

Trumbull County commissioner Dan Polivka added that the county has made strides in several infrastructure and quality-of-life projects.

Among the most prominent is the Blueprint Waterline, a project the commissioner said is the largest of its kind in Trumbull County history that extends from West Farmington to Newton Falls.

“When it’s all said and done, it will impact 1,000 properties and 789 structures,” he said.

Attendees also received an update from Col. Daniel Sarachene, commander of the 910th Airlift squadron, who highlighted some of the new development activities at the air base.

The Youngstown Air Reserve Station yields a $100 million annual economic impact to the Mahoning Valley, driven by the 1,700 men and women who work at the base. Among the new developments in 2018 was the opening of the base’s indoor firing range, the second of its kind in Ohio.

Sarachene, who is leaving his post as commander on Feb. 9, said that Col. Joseph Janik would succeed him at the base.

“He’s been here a year, so he knows the community and the people,” Sarachene said. The outgoing commander also announced that the Air Force Thunderbirds would return for the air show at the base in 2020.

In the coming months, Sarachene said that the base would work closely with new initiatives such as improving the airstrip to accommodate C-17 aircraft and to engage organizations such as America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator and Youngstown State University to explore new technological applications through additive manufacturing.

“Working with additive manufacturing is the future of logistics for the military,” Sarachene said. “We’re very excited to work with those institutions.”

The use of additive manufacturing at military installations stands to save the defense industry a significant amount of money, since each base could print a specific part on-site rather than order the component and wait for its delivery.

“If you look at what Youngstown State University and President Tressel are doing, the Youngstown Business Incubator and the 910th, all of us together are finding ways to take advantage of this to make it productive,” said Rob Gorham, executive director of America Makes.

Additive manufacturing, Gorham noted, can serve a $1 trillion market though advanced manufacturing and supply chain initiatives. Major automakers such as Ford Motor Co. are considering integrating 3D printing into their operations in order to make their factories more agile and flexible, he said.

This region is perfect for such development, Gorham said.

“The DNA in this area is manufacturing-rich,” he said. “There’s an appreciation for the people’s dedication to manufacturing products. We can take advantage of that as we pivot to new industries.”

Pictured: Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber chief operating officer Sarah Boyarko said the agency showed 10 Trumbull County sites to a national site selector Thursday.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.