‘We’re ready to work together’

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Girard Mayor James Melfi

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U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-17)

Signing ceremony

What: Officials from Youngstown and Girard will be on hand for the signing of an agreement to annex 191 acres of Girard land to Youngstown for the potential expansion of V&M Star Steel.

When: 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Where: Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber conference room, 17th floor at the First National Bank Tower, downtown Youngstown.

Source: Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber

By Rick Rouan

The Youngstown Board of Control will vote on the V&M Star Steel agreement at 5 p.m. today.

GIRARD — Now that city council has agreed to annex 191 acres to Youngstown, clearing the way for a $970 million potential expansion of V&M Star Steel, a congressman says its time to show the world the Mahoning Valley is a good place to do business.

The cities finalized an agreement last week to share the 2.75 percent corporate-profit tax and to split income tax paid by workers constructing the potential expansion.

“This was our opportunity to send a message to the rest of the country and the world that, in a global economy, we’re ready to work together,” Councilman Tom Seidler, D-3rd, and chairman of the council’s economic development committee, said at Monday night’s council session.

“We’re going to let people in Paris and all over Europe know this is a place to go to do business,” said U.S. Rep Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.

Ryan spoke during the public-comment portion of the meeting about the agreement helping to change the perception of the Valley as an uncompromising area where business was difficult to do.

The project also brings $20 million in state and federal stimulus money to do site preparation work and move railroad tracks that run through the site, Ryan said.

“Now we put the full-court press on,” Ryan said. “This was the biggest opportunity we’ve had since GM Lordstown.”

Council voted 6-0 to approve the agreement with Fourth Ward Councilman Thomas Grumley abstaining because of a potential conflict of interest. Grumley said the company he works for does some work with V&M.

The Youngstown Board of Control will vote on the agreement today at 5 p.m., and an official signing ceremony is slated for Wednesday.

Representatives of the two cities have said that V&M Star officials wanted 191 acres of Girard land to be part of Youngstown for a potential expansion. Youngstown purchased the property earlier this year.

But the two sides have been at odds over an agreement. V&M Star officials wanted the land issue settled in August, but the cities have been negotiating the agreement for weeks.

Girard Mayor James Melfi has maintained that his city was getting shortchanged by losing too much land. Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams last week called the deal “fair and equitable.”

At the council meeting, Melfi called the agreement a “good deal for the city of Girard.”

“That’s why it will have my signature,” he added.

Melfi said he wanted to put the tough negotiations behind him, and highlighted the amount of money that the expansion could bring to the city.

If the potential expansion is completed, the two cities would split the annual corporate-profit tax that V&M Star pays above $3.85 million. Melfi had fought for a lower number — $3.325 million — but Youngstown wanted to begin the split above $4.105 million. The two sides eventually agreed last week on $3.85 million.

The property, however, remains in the Girard school district, which stands to gain about $1 million to $1.2 million in annual property taxes if V&M goes through with the expansion. The cities also will split the income taxes paid by workers.

A decision on whether V&M Star actually will move forward with the expansion of its Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard facility is expected in early January, Seidler said. The company would hire about 400 new employees.

V&M Star is considering the Girard-Youngstown area, Houston and Brazil for the potential expansion, Seidler said.

Seidler said he would write a letter to the Paris-based company’s board to give his take on why the Valley is the right place for the expansion.


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