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Regional Chamber Sets Ambitious 2019 Agenda

By James Dignan, president and CEO, Regional Chamber

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — In 2018, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Youngstown, Warren and Niles chambers merging to better serve the entire Mahoning Valley and accomplish more, together.

But a deeper dive into the history of our chambers uncovered a meeting of industrial and business leaders who huddled to find new ways to attract more businesses to the area – in 1894. That group merged with the Youngstown Board of Trade to become the Youngstown Area Chamber of Commerce The Warren Board of Trade followed suit, becoming the Warren Area Chamber of Commerce.

Our story mirrors theirs 125 years later and the mission of the chamber has stayed true to this group’s original intent “to promote the improvement of local living and to encourage residents to settle in the city.”

While the landscape of the Youngstown-Warren region may have changed since then, the efforts and focus of the chamber have not. We have continued to provide economic development, advocacy and business services to the business community. In 2019, our agenda remains as ambitious as in years past as we work on projects and with local partners on significant initiatives that have widespread impact.

After assisting TJX officials for the past two years in securing a new home for the company’s distribution center, we look forward to the groundbreaking this year in Lordstown. We’re also anticipating that the $1 billion Trumbull Energy Center project, the second power plant project in Lordstown, will move forward in 2019 as well.

After assisting with nearly $122 million of new investment in the Valley in 2018, the chamber’s economic development division is focused on more than $2.2 billion of pending investment in the next two years that will result in 1,700 new jobs.

Our team also continues to be a strong advocate for the region’s military installations Our Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission and regional partners will work to ensure that both the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and Camp Garfield in Ravenna remain viable assets for the long term.

In the meantime, we will continue to band together with local, business and elected leaders with initiatives like Drive It Home to preserve companies that call Youngstown-Warren home and build an even better community for those who live and work here.

As the third-largest metropolitan chamber in Ohio with 2,600 members, we will also continue to advocate for our members and offer new programs and services to help with their bottom-line growth.

We successfully held our first Columbus Drive-In, D.C. Fly-In and Health & Wellness Expo events in 2018 and are proud to be hosting all three again this year. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants of all three – with vastly different audiences – reinforces that our work is important across the entire Mahoning Valley.

On a final note, I am looking forward to chairing the Ohio Metro Chamber Coalition. The coalition is comprised of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Ohio’s eight largest metropolitan chambers of commerce, with a combined membership of more than 25,000 businesses providing nearly 2 million jobs.

The coalition has a unique insight on the issues facing businesses of all sizes and can leverage each organization’s diverse membership to advance a united platform of public policy priorities promoting a pro-growth business climate.

Through all these efforts, the chamber’s team remains dedicated to serving our members and carrying out the vision our founders shared a century ago: to create a prosperous Mahoning Valley that is the preferred community in which to live, learn, work and play.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.