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Study prescribes actions to jump-start Valley economy

Published: Wed, June 10, 2009 @ 12:09 a.m.

The survey urges the area to seek growth in industries such as transportation and warehousing.



YOUNGSTOWN — A study of the Mahoning Valley’s financial climate urges organizing

collaboratives, finding new ways of helping the poor, making smaller companies bigger, and seeking local, state and federal funding to turn around the area’s struggling economy.

The Raymond John Wean Foundation, in partnership with JB Morgan Chase and Turning Technologies Inc., on Tuesday released the 48-page report done by Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit organization.

The report includes a lengthy list of recommendations such as increasing the investment in youth organizations, helping renters who fall behind in their rent and better serving the area’s Latino community.

Over the years, many reports and studies recommending improvements to the Valley have stalled.

That won’t happen with this proposal, said Joel Ratner, the Wean Foundation’s president.

“We will be the safeguard against the report sitting on the shelf,” he said. “We will use it as a guide” over the next few years. “It’s an action plan.”

The foundation provides funding for programs, services and projects in Mahoning and Trumbull counties. The late Raymond John Wean, who owned the former Wean Engineering Co., established the foundation in Warren in 1949.

When asked about the cost of implementing the recommendations in the report, Ratner said that depends on what would be done. While not giving a dollar figure, he said money for many programs can come from the state and federal governments as well as locally.

The report is about the future, said Andrea Levere, president of Corporation for Enterprise Development.

The recommendations need to first be prioritized before they can be implemented, something that won’t be done by this year, Ratner said.

One of the survey’s main ideas is targeting workforce and educational resources to industries with decent paying jobs.

There has been progress made in this area, including the development of a new community college and a new business college at Youngstown State University, Levere said.

The survey showed that the Valley experienced a major amount of growth in the transportation and warehousing industries because of its central location to major metropolitan areas.

“The region’s business and workforce development leaders should consider how resources can be more effectively deployed to stimulate increased growth in these promising sectors,” the report reads.

Among the suggestions is “greater collaboration or a merger” between the United Way organizations in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

The declining economy has adversely affected the amount of money the United Way raises for its member agencies, said Bob Hannon, president and chief professional officer of the Mahoning County United Way.

“The time has come to collaborate and for the two United Ways to become the Mahoning Valley United Way,” he said. “We urge our agencies to collaborate and to not duplicate services. We need to do the same. I think it’s in the best interests of the Mahoning Valley for there to be one United Way.”

Thomas J. Krysick, Trumbull County United Way’s president and chief professional officer, said a merger has been discussed over the years. When asked about a merger, Krysick said, “We always look to best serve our population and our community. It’s a decision for boards to make.”

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