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Mahoning Valley should thank Vallourec Star

Published: Mon, July 1, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

Recently, V&M Star was renamed Vallourec Star.

Philippe Crouzet, chairman of Vallourec’s management board, flew from France to speak. In addition to the corporate name change, the June 12 event was a “grand opening” ribbon-cutting for a $1 billion, state-of-the-art seamless pipe mill at the former Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. Brier Hill Industrial Complex on the border of Youngstown and Girard along U.S. Route 422.

This new plant is capable of producing up to 500,000 metric tons of seamless OCTG tubes from 23/8 to 7 inches in diameter. For nonindustry readers, OCTG stands for “Oil country tubular goods.”

This truly is big business in an area of Ohio that needs big business.

But that’s not all.

According to the company’s website, Vallourec tells visitors to expect its “operations in Youngstown to become the new OCTG Global Solution Center in North America.”

In addition to its initial investment, Vallourec Star announced plans to create a $650 million finishing mill operating as a subsidiary corporation named VAM.

The addition of the finishing mill will solidify the base of operations in Youngstown. Currently, most of the pipes created at the Mahoning Valley facility are shipped by rail to Houston for finishing. Finishing entails the process of applying threads and end-capping the pipes.

This all means good things to the Youngstown-Girard corridor along Route 422 and the entire Mahoning Valley region.

When asked how the Vallourec expansion has affected the city of Girard, Mayor James Melfi quickly recollected the city has collected more than $2 million in taxes and fees in the past two years.

But the mayor feels that money for the city coffers is only a small part of the benefits. He said that “the additional jobs are good and the positive effect on the landscape of the 422 corridor has been rather stunning.”

In addition to all the landscape changes introduced by the initial Vallourec Star expansion, the mayor points out the VAM plant will be located on the former Joseph Dempsey Steel plant.

This site, in Youngtown, was previously in Girard before a cooperative agreement was signed between the two cities in 2009.

Melfi recalls numerous environmental problems there in the past, all of which have been remediated with the VAM effort.

The defunct Sharp Lumber Co. was purchased by the city of Youngstown in order to transfer the property to Vallourec Star for office space at the new Global Solution Center.

The Sharp building recently was demolished. The property remains in Girard.

In addition, because of investment in the area, Girard put forth $25,000 in funds, along with the Ohio attorney general’s office, for housing demolition.

The city then tore down three vacant homes on south 422 and Belgrade.

Girard City Council also has allocated a portion of the tax proceeds from the Vallourec project for improvements to the city’s Girard-Liberty Memorial Park. There are plans to begin construction on a new soccer facility at the park this fall. While serving as at-large council- man during the initial land agreement between Youngstown and Girard, I remembered the significance of the V&M name. The V stands for Vallourec and the M stands for Mannesmann. With the corporate rebranding, Mannesmann has been dropped from the name.

In 1885, Reinhard Mannesmann and his son, Max, invented the pierce-rolling process for the manufacture of seamless steel tubes.

This is the technology that made V&M possible. On top of the many thanks to Vallourec Star, the Mahoning Valley also owes gratitude and a heart-felt farewell to the Mannesmann family.

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