City Hires Former Deputy Auditor to Assist Finance Department

Youngstown Council Approves Steelite, 20 Federal Agreements

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An incentive agreement with Steelite International and several pieces of legislation related to the 20 Federal Place redevelopment project will go before the city’s Board of Control this morning after being approved Wednesday evening by City Council.

The job creation grant agreement with Steelite, a supplier of tableware to the hospitality industry worldwide, would provide a $415,000 grant to Steelite, which in June announced it had reached an agreement with the Youngstown Business Incubator to move its global headquarters from New Castle, Pa. into the Taft Technology Center and part of the Semple Building.

To receive the grant, Steelite must commit to relocating at least 60 full-time employees with an annual payroll of not less than $5 million no later than December of this year. The grant would provide annual payments based on payroll withholdings, ranging from 100% during the first year to 25% in its final year.

Council members unanimously approved the legislation, as it did with all but one of the items related to 20 Federal Place, during a special meeting during its summer recess.

Third Ward Councilwoman Samantha Turner cast the sole dissenting vote on legislation to authorize the Board of Control to enter into an agreement with a developer – not identified in the legislation — to rehabilitate and develop a mixed-use complex at the city-owned 20 Federal Place building.

Turner expressed concerns over the developer not being named in the legislation as well as for the status of the building’s tenants, who were informed just over two weeks ago that they would need to leave the building to accommodate environmental remediation work that is taking place as part of the project. The city has until June 2023 to spend a nearly $7 million brownfield remediation grant it was awarded in June.

Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Ray said the issue had been discussed during the city’s finance committee meeting earlier in the week and most council members were comfortable leaving the developer not identified as the administration worked out details of an agreement.

Other items related to the 20 Federal that were approved included authorizing the Board of Control to:

Enter into an agreement with Steadfast City Economic & Community Partners of St. Louis to provide technical assistance and strategic counsel to the city for matters related to the redevelopment of 20 Federal at a cost of $215 per hour, not to exceed $75,000.

Authorizing contracts with HP Consulting Group, Cleveland, and Desmone, the Pittsburgh architectural firm the city has been working with since last year and which helped the city secure the brownfield grant, to assist with providing state and federal historic presentation tax credits to support the project.

Under its agreement, Desmone would be paid up to $935,380 to provide architectural, interior design, digital scanning, and engineering services including civil, structural, mechanical, plumbing and fire protection engineering. HP Group would receive up to $168,000 under its contract.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver, whose ward includes downtown, where both projects are located, responded positively to the approvals.

Oliver said he wanted to create an incentive that could be used to lure businesses back to the city that left because of its 2.75 % income tax. “This was the perfect opportunity to pilot that,” he said. The councilman also said he liked the deal because the agreement provides the incentives on the back end rather than up front.

“Hopefully, we can expand it and be able to pull more businesses back in the city,” he said. He was confident that, with approval of the incentive, Steelite would be moving forward with its move.
“It’s a good start as another tool and opportunity for business attraction,” Brown said.

Oliver also said he has been in touch with 20 Federal tenants, many of whom have told him they could not relocate in the time frames that the letters from the city outlined.

Representatives of Steadfast City met last week with building tenants, some of whom were given just 30 days to move.

Sarah Scribner, project manager with the company, said she was going to advocate to city officials that they extend the deadline for tenants to leave.

“That’s something I’m definitely in favor of. I know my colleagues would all be in favor of that,” Oliver said. “No small business is able to move in that amount of time.”

Brown said the city, through Steadfast, is working with 20 Federal tenants to help them relocate downtown or elsewhere in the city. He also acknowledged it might be difficult for them to pay “market-rate rent” after being in the city-subsidized 20 Federal for many years.
“We’re really trying to help them,” he said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.