WRPA Anticipates Major Announcements Soon

By John Moliterno, executive director, WRPA
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Western Reserve Port Authority, founded in 1992, works to coordinate incentives and grant-making efforts with a diverse and inclusive group of public and private partners.

Building on the successes of 2018 – development efforts that brought more than $52 million in new investment to the Mahoning Valley – several major initiatives are in the works for 2019, with announcements expected in the coming months.

Our board and staff strive to build wealth and capacity in our communities, including deployment of the new Opportunity Zones, Enterprise Zones and other forms of low-cost financing.

The port authority owns and operates the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, home to the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, the region’s largest employer.

Airport officials continue to seek affordable, fixed-route passenger services, which require significant local subsidies and long-term public buy-in. In the meantime, more than 100 charter and private flights use the airport runway every day. That includes, from time to time, Air Force Two, which routinely uses YNG as a staging ground for training.

In 2018, the airport completed a $5.2 million project that redesigned taxiways to improve safety and accommodate larger aircraft and began an airfield lighting project, saving on energy costs and building resiliency to the infrastructure. The port authority is also directly involved in promoting our military operations by participation with the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission and Trumbull County’s joint land use study.

The Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, our economic development division, last year participated in the successful completion of two projects in the heart of downtown Youngstown. The DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, with 110 rooms, fine dining and conference areas, quickly became a destination for visitors. The Enclave, the newest student housing community adjacent to Youngstown State University, opened its doors to approximately 200 students last year. The second phase of development will feature Chipotle Mexican Grill and Mercy Health’s urgent care facility, both set to open in March.

The port authority’s property management division works to build value in our commercial and industrial real estate market. For three years, we have managed the Castlo Community Improvement Corp., with its industrial park serving Struthers, Campbell, Lowellville, Coitsville and Poland. The 140 employees in the 120-acre park contribute to growth in that portion of our region.

In Trumbull County, the port authority helped with the sale of the Scope building in Warren to a developer who plans to turn the structure into a waterfront winery.

Also in 2018, the port authority adopted as a project the former Youngstown Developmental Center, a 35-acre campus with 10 buildings and amenities to serve special needs populations. The conversion of this campus promises to be a model for the state and the nation in building partnerships for adaptive re-use.

The port authority continues to build our property portfolio with the purchase and renovation of the former Harshman Building in Youngstown’s central business district. The newly renovated building will house classrooms and operations for Eastern Gateway Community College and enhance community and commercial activity downtown.

We also partnered with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. on the purchase and transfer of 2246 Glenwood Ave., which recently opened as the Glenwood Business Center to house small businesses.

The Western Reserve Port Authority sponsors many community initiatives and events. We organized a training session on financial management for public officials to facilitate better financial management and transparent accounting practices. And we continue to convene the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors’ Association, which promotes collaboration and community building among the region’s cities. The mayors’ association has been honored by Vibrant NEO for outstanding collaboration on efforts to clean up the Mahoning River.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.