By Karl Henkel
An Ohio Commerce Center representative says it is “extremely close” with about five major companies looking to establish a presence in the Mahoning Valley.
Dan Crouse of Warren-based Routh-Hurlbert Real Estate, the leasing partner of OCC, told The Vindicator on Thursday that the 476-acre industrial park on state Route 45 in Lordstown is experiencing at least one new business inquiry daily and has several proposals out for manufacturing, distribution and oil- and gas-related space.
“We could realistically be talking about dozens of companies,” Crouse said.
The center got some help Thursday toward landing new businesses when the Ohio Department of Development approved a $2 million grant.
The grant will help prepare 266 acres of industrial and manufacturing space for development at OCC. The project includes street resurfacing, railroad crossings and railroad-line improvements, including modification of the state Route 45 bridge.
“The grant itself is designed to improve the rail infrastructure here,” Crouse said. “Because of the limitation at the east end of our site, we [currently] can’t move them [the trains] around.”
Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said he is “excited” about the news of the grant.
“This project could pave the way for major development at the Ohio Commerce Center in Lordstown and the potential for a significant amount of jobs, especially related to the oil and gas supply chain,” he said.
The chamber was designated by ODOD as the grant recipient for the project, serving as its economic-development community facilitator.
Lordstown Mayor Arno Hill lauded ODOD’s decision.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Hill said. “This is excellent. For every job that comes into the village, we collect income taxes, and the majority of that will go to the schools.”
Hill said he was not immediately aware of any new businesses slated to move into OCC, but said there has been “a lot of interest.”
The newest addition to the Ohio Commerce Center is the 155,000-square- foot Anderson-Dubose Inc. headquarters, which broke ground last year and is operating now.
Anderson-DuBose provides supplies for McDonald’s and Chipotle restaurants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.
The approved grants are contingent upon approval from the state Controlling Board on May 7. Overall, seven Ohio communities are slated to receive grants totaling $10 million for future economic development opportunities.