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Turn up heat to complete a cool project on East Side

Friday, October 21, 2016

Plans for the first major economic development project on Youngstown’s East Side in decades hold great promise for significant job creation, heightened city revenue and a viable catalyst for additional growth on that oft-neglected sector of the city.

As such, city leaders must pull out all the stops necessary to ensure the project reaches its finish line successfully and as expeditiously as possible. That includes ensuring that all property owners on the targeted site receive fair and equitable compensation for their displacement to other parts of the city.

Earlier this month, The Joseph Company International Inc. of Irvine, Calif., announced plans to construct a high-tech $20 million plant and research campus to produce self-chilling beverage cans. It would span an area bordered by Oak Street, Fruit Street, Himrod Avenue and the Madison Avenue Expressway.

The project elicits excitement on several fronts.

First, it will bring cutting-edge technology to provide an innovative yet extremely practical service and product to the masses. According to company CEO Mitchell Joseph, a Youngstown native, the company’s patented MicroCool process produces beverage cans with built-in heat exchange units that can substantially cool liquids inside them in less than a minute. On a hot summer’s day, that would be a pleasing thirst-quenching godsend. That head-turning innovation likely will build significant demand.

In addition, the company is also working with cosmetic companies, such as Estee Lauder, to incorporate its cool technology to cold-cream products.

Also exciting are the large-scale plans for the physical facility. When all phases of the $20 million project are complete, four modern structures will rise to create a campus for production, research and development. The buildings will be occupied by an estimated 250 employees making wages as high as $20 per hour.


For the city, the rewards would be enriching as well, what with the campus generating an estimated $5 million in annual payroll and about $140,000 in additional municipal income tax revenue.

Fortunately, so far, all systems appear to be go. On Thursday, the city’s board of control authorized a $1.5 million incentive package for the Joseph Co. that includes a site development grant, assistance with acquisition and clearing of properties.

All of this progress thus far did not happen overnight. For two years now, the company has been working with the city purchasing properties for the campus. City leaders, including T. Sharon Woodberry, director of community planning and economic development and Finance Director David Bozanich merit kudos for their diligence, attention to detail and cooperative behind-the-scenes negotiations with Joseph.

For his part, Joseph is to be credited for his sincere commitment toward revitalizing his hometown. After all, he could have chosen anywhere in the nation for this state-of-the-art endeavor. What’s more, Joseph, whose family once operated the Star Bottling Co. in the target area for the chill-can plant, also has indicated he will work closely with Youngstown State University for engineering work and in attracting potential employees.

Purchase deals

To build momentum for this project, the city already has negotiated purchase deals with property owners for all of the land needed for the first phase of the project. One sticking point that remains, however, is the need to persuade a few holdout homeowners in the East Side neighborhood to accept a deal. Toward that end, we would hope those owners recognize the greater good for the city and the Mahoning Valley that will result from finalizing a purchase agreement.

For the city, we urge understanding of the life-altering impact of uprooting homeowners from the neighborhood they’ve called home for decades and offer them fair compensation for their displacement.

For far too long, bulldozing dilapidated and blighted structures has been the primary activity unfolding throughout the East Side. The promise of building up a state-of-the-art green industrial complex arrives as a most welcome change.