Local entities teaming up to beautify U.S. Route 422
By danny restivo
Four local agencies are teaming up to improve economic opportunity along U.S. Route 422 near V&M Star.
The city is working with the Trumbull County Planning Commission, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation and the Youngstown/ Warren Regional Chamber to create a business-friendly environment, said Eric Planey, vice president of international business attractions for the regional chamber.
“We’re trying to bring everyone together so we can showcase the area to potential businesses,” said Planey.
V&M’s new $1.1 billion pipe-making facility produced its first pipe in October. As the plant ramps up production, local officials are collaborating to create a welcome area for business.
“The more people you have involved, the greater the chances are for success,” said Mayor James Melfi.
Melfi said the effort also would increase the likelihood of a grant for economic improvement. In the fall, Girard and Youngstown were selected to receive a grant from the Eastgate Transportation Enhancement Program. The program utilizes federal funds to finance projects that enhance the area’s transportation systems.
Girard will receive $85,000 to fund beautification efforts at Interstate 80 and Route 422, while Youngstown will receive $115,000 for landscape and community signs at state Route 711 and Route 422.
A V&M spokesman said the company pledged $11,500 to the Youngstown site, and Melfi said his city would receive $17,000 from V&M.
According to an agreement plan, the collaborative effort also will aim to identify tax-delinquent properties in the area.
Ian Beniston, director of the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp., said the demolition of homes will play a part in the improvement plan, but it won’t be the only portion.
“Demolishing homes will be a part of it, but this plan is going to address everything, including other blight along the corridor and opportunities for outside businesses,” said Beniston.
He said the agreement is in its early stages, but a master plan for all entities to follow is the goal.
Beniston said a key part of the study will include participation for residents. He said citizens living in nearby neighborhoods are aware of the plans.