WRPA Helps Transform Valley’s Landscape

By John Moliterno, Executive Director, WRPA
The Western Reserve Port Authority participated in several development initiatives in 2019 that helped to bring substantial new investment and new jobs to the Mahoning Valley. 

Port authorities are stand-alone government divisions with the power and capacity to catalyze development. Under the leadership of the board of directors, and in partnership with the Mahoning and Trumbull County boards of commissioners, private investors and community leaders, our staff finds transformative solutions and flexible, innovative financing to promote economic development. 

Using the port authority’s unique powers and flexible financing tools, several geographic areas in our community saw significant transformation in 2019.

Downtown Youngstown and the campus of Youngstown State University are transforming together to make a walkable, livable and attractive home for students, young professionals and empty-nesters. The port authority deployed its capital lease financing tools to reduce the cost of developing student housing and new retail spaces. 

Now the campus can boast hundreds of new units of student apartments in safe, accessible and attractive neighborhoods. These projects were possible with WRPA financing tools in partnership with private investment:

  • Five new student housing units surrounding the YSU campus, opening the way for more than 900 new student residents on campus.
  • Renovation of the former Harshman Building on East Boardman Street for classrooms and executive offices for Eastern Gateway Community College.

Downtown Warren saw several revitalization efforts succeed when the port transferred three properties for various activities. These projects include:

  • The former Owen Morgan house in Warren became the Trumbull County Historical Society’s educational center. 
  • The property at 2311 Niles Road became the site for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to expand operations, programs and services. 
  • The former Scope building on West Market Street was transformed into CharBenay’s Winery.

Other projects the port authority partnered with to complete this year include:

  • The TJX HomeGoods new logistics building in Lordstown, which is projected to include an investment of more than $166 million, creating 1,000 jobs.
  • Management of the Castlo Community Improvement Corp., bringing new jobs and working on downtown revitalization in Struthers.
  • Quarterly coordination of the Mahoning River Corridor Mayors Association, advocating for economic and community development in the region, celebrating shared victories and gaining new resources for urban revitalization.

In 1992, the Western Reserve Port Authority was established to operate the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. Since then, the authority has pursued every opportunity to transform the community by offering the best aviation services available, financing new investment, and bringing together public and private partners to make the Mahoning Valley the best place to live, work, play and raise a family.

The airport serves the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, home to the 910th Airlift Wing and the region’s largest employer. The Federal Aviation Administration continues to invest in the airport, bringing state-of-the art airfield lighting and a new taxiway to the airfield. And the port authority partnered with YARS to propose the construction of an $8.8 million new main gate, which will enhance security at the air base. 

Ideally positioned for daily air passenger service, the airport is a convenient location for every form of aviation service. The potential for growth is impressive. 

The airport is also home to the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, the highest rated two-year trade school in the nation.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.