Issue: March/April 2011
Community Impact Awards 2011: Star Power
V&M Star’s expansion shines a light on Mahoning Valley collaboration.
The $650 million expansion of V&M Star in Youngstown is no ordinary construction job. “[This] is different than building a school or office,” says Don Crane, president of the Western Reserve Building & Construction Trades Council.
About 800 construction workers, representing all 14 building crafts, will be used during the 18-month process. Operating engineers, roofers, iron workers, pipe fitters and every other craft in the area will have a hand in the largest investment in the Valley since the GM Lordstown Assembly plant 35 years ago.
That creates an amazingly powerful circle of economic life, especially for an area that has struggled to maintain jobs and residents for the past 20 years.
“It keeps the local people purchasing homes and cars,” Crane says. “Their children will go to YSU as students. They can also keep their health care, which means hospitals get paid. Banks will also receive deposits, which they can then invest.”
Local suppliers, such as lumberyards and steel and fabricating shops, will have opportunities, he says. “Everything else starts moving with construction.”
But it could have turned out differently. Youngstown was competing with four other locations for the V&M plant, a small-diameter steel rolling mill.
The Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and 20 other federal, state, city and county organizations worked with the company for more than two years before the official announcement that it had
landed the project in February 2010. The Regional Chamber coordinated hundreds of meetings over two years to show the area was capable of handling V&M’s needs.
Among the largest obstacles to overcome was the transfer of 193 acres from Girard to Youngstown for the new facility and the resulting tax-sharing agreement.
The new 1 million-square-foot mill is expected to create 350 direct high-paying manufacturing jobs and four spinoff jobs, according to the chamber of commerce. The total impact is estimated at $1.1 billion.
“This project will showcase that the Youngstown-Warren area can compete and secure a project that is one of the largest of its kind in the U.S.,” says Walt Good, vice president of economic development and business retention and expansion. “We can showcase this success to court other companies.”
In fact, TMK IPSCO, the parent company of Premium Oilfield Services Ltd., already created 50 jobs last year.
“Many people had given up on the area,” Good says, “but this project is something that the entire region can be proud of.”
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