Williams to meet in Paris with V&M leaders
By David Skolnick
YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams said he’ll meet Monday in Paris with top officials of V&M Star Steel’s parent company to make a “personal appeal” to have a proposed $970 million expansion project built in the Mahoning Valley.
Williams is finishing a weeklong forum in Germany today on how that country transformed some of its former industrial cities into productive places of business.
Not wanting to let an opportunity pass, Williams said he contacted V&M officials, including President Roger Lindgren, to schedule a meeting with Vallourec Group leaders.
Among those expected to meet with Williams on Monday include Patrick Boissier, Vallourec’s chairman and chief executive officer, and Jean-Francois Cirelli, its chief operating officer.
“I’m excited to meet with officials from a company that could invest $1 billion in our community,” Williams told The Vindicator in a Friday telephone interview from Germany. “I’m going to make the pitch that Youngstown-Girard is the site, in our opinion, that would best serve the company.”
After somewhat heated negotiations, Youngstown and Girard signed an agreement Oct. 14 that would provide about 200 acres of land to V&M for a potential expansion that would employ 400 if the company decides to build here. The two cities will share a 2.75 percent corporate-profit tax from V&M and a 2.75 percent income tax from the company’s employees.
One hold-up was getting Girard to turn over 191 acres of industrial-zoned land to Youngstown for the expansion. V&M officials wouldn’t consider the site unless all of the property was in Youngstown, officials with Youngstown and Girard have said.
At Monday’s meeting, Williams said he will stress that the land is available for the expansion, the cooperative agreement between the two cities is in place, and financial assistance, totaling more than $20 million, has been committed by the state to make the site ready for V&M.
Vallourec officials are expected to make a decision on the location by December or January.
Williams said he plans to stay in France for a few days and return home Friday.
Williams arrived in Germany on Oct. 23 to attend the German Marshall Fund’s “Comparative Domestic Policy Program.” Williams was among 13 officials from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina attending the conference. His expenses were paid by the fund.
The program focused on strategies for turning former industrial sites into productive places of business through the use of high-speed rail and environmentally-friendly business practices. The officials visited Berlin, Hamburg and Leipzig.
Williams said he was particularly impressed with Liepzig, which lost population as Youngstown did, and then stabilized its population, largely because of business growth tied to high-speed rail. There are discussions to bring high-speed rail to the Valley.
“It’s turned cities that were economically and socially irrelevant into destination centers,” Williams said of high-speed rail in Germany.