WRPA to Aid $9.3M Trailstar Plant Expansion Project

WARREN, Ohio – A proposed $9.3 million expansion at Trailstar International is a step closer to fruition following action by the Western Reserve Port Authority.

At its meeting Wednesday, the port authority’s board of directors approved authorizing its executive director to negotiate a capital lease agreement with the Smith Township company to develop manufacturing and warehouse space on a site near its current building.

Trailstar manufacturers aluminum trailers at its plant on Harrisburg Westville Road in Alliance. It is “bursting at the seams,” said Lauren Johnson, business development manager for the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. The company is also considering alternatives including out-of-state options, she said

The chamber has been working with the company for about two years on the 66,300-square-foot expansion project, Johnson said. The project is expected to add about 50 jobs, roughly doubling its current employment.   

“They need more people. They need more space,” Johnson said.

The capital lease agreement will be similar to those entered into for the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Youngstown and student housing projects serving Youngstown State University, said Anthony Trevena, economic development director for the port authority and director of the Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority, the port authority’s economic development arm.

“We’re one small piece of this,” Trevena said. “The chamber did a really good job leading that effort.”

Under the agreement, which is being negotiated, the port authority will own the building for a period of time, an arrangement that will exempt construction materials purchased from sales tax. “It does give them the benefit of some savings to help the economics of the project,” he said.

Trailstar is hoping to break ground this year, Johnson reported. “There’s a few things that need to be finalized before they make a formal decision so that should happen pretty quickly,” she said.

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, John Moliterno, the port authority’s executive director, provided an update on the Harshman Building project in Youngstown. The port authority is renovating the building’s basement and first floor for use by Eastern Gateway Community College, and there are a couple of options for the building’s second floor, he said.

“It’s amazing the transition that has taken place in that building,” Moliterno said. “We’re going to be able to turn that into a profitable venture very quickly.”  

In addition, Trevena informed the port authority that a property transfer ceremony is set for Feb. 28 for the Owen Morgan house in Warren to the Trumbull County Historical Society.

The Mahoning Avenue structure is one of several properties the port authority is marketing under an agreement with the city of Warren. At the event, the city will transfer the building to the port authority, which will then transfer it to the historical society for renovation.

The historical society will pay $500 for the building and has raised $120,000 for the first phase of the renovation, said Meghan Reed, the historical society’s executive director. The project includes roof repairs, a new restroom facility, installation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, new carpeting and lighting, and creation of a classroom and a research library with museum-quality equipment.

“Hopefully, fingers crossed, everything will be done by the spring of 2020,” Reed said.

A second phase, which will take place within three to five years after completion of the first, will involve a 1,300-square-foot expansion of the building, she said. That addition will accommodate a rotating exhibit gallery and space for museum-quality collection storage that now is unavailable. She estimates the cost for that addition at around $300,000. 

Pictured at top:  A dump truck manufactured by Trailstar International in Alliance.

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