Strengthening the Valley’s DNA

In a quirky convergence this weekend of the old and new, the Mahoning Valley celebrated the reopening of a shuttered steel mill in Warren just as representatives from the world over gathered in Youngstown to revel in the city’s stature as a center of cutting-edge additive-manufacturing technology.

The convergence, however, is hardly a clash of old and new economies. It rather stands as a confluence of industrial might and diversity necessary for our region’s long-term livelihood.

The Warren Steel Holdings plant — located on the site of the once behemoth Copperweld Steel mill — is reopening after a five-month shutdown thanks to a promising and praiseworthy partnership with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

The PUCO voted unanimously last month to allow WSH to pay significantly less — $35 million over the next six years — on its fixed-rate utilities.

The agreement bodes well for the future of the producer and global supplier of high-quality carbon and alloy steel products. In return for the discount, WSH plans to expand its product lines, spend more than $30 million in plant upgrades and increase employment from 317 to 374 full-time equivalent jobs.

Like the partnership between private- sector interests and public-sector entities in the Youngstown-based America Makes hub for 3-D printing, the deal forged for the Warren steel plant’s survival signals more long-term growth and security for this legacy Valley industry.

Whether it applies to alloy steel or 3-D printed jewelry, AM founder Ralph Resnick’s perspective on the Valley economy at the weekend’s Maker City convention rings true: “Making and manufacturing are in the DNA of this region.”

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