By Peter H. Milliken
Local leaders and officials of Joseph Co. International broke ground for a $20 million chill-can technology, can-filling and distribution center on the city’s East Side that will use the world’s first self-chilling beverage can.
Monday’s ceremony was conducted under sunny skies and mild weather conditions at 130 N. Lane Ave.
“This is a great day for the city of Youngstown. It is not often in a city of any size where you’re able to help break ground on a project that’s going to bring anywhere between 240 and 250 jobs,” Mayor John A. McNally told the crowd that gathered under a tent in a vacant lot for the ceremony.
“It’s truly an honor to be standing here breaking ground where my great-grandfather broke ground in 1921,” said Mitchell Joseph, the company’s chief executive officer.
Joseph is a Youngstown native and fourth-generation Joseph family member in the beverage industry.
The new complex, consisting of four production buildings and an East Coast administrative headquarters, will be built where his great-grandfather founded and operated Star Bottling Co. from 1921 to 1970.
“It honors the legacy of your family. It honors the legacy of the city and our industrial heritage, but, also, we have the technology that’s also connected to this,” T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s community planning and economic development director, told Joseph.
Joseph, a Youngstown State University graduate, credited YSU President Jim Tressel with urging him to build the new plant in the city.
Tressel and Joseph said they look forward to a partnership between the university and the nearby plant, with students having internship opportunities at the facility.
“The innovation and technology developments, the R&D that’s going to go on in these facilities, is going to be a tremendous thing with our STEM school and our students’ internships,” Tressel said.
He was referring to research and development and to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The Irvine, Calif-based company has the trademark to the “chill can,” which allows a drink to be chilled in less than a minute by turning a knob on the can’s bottom.
The new plant, known as the Chill Can Beverage Complex and Technology Center, will distribute to a territory extending from Massachusetts to Florida and Texas, Joseph said.
In its largest land assembly to date, the Mahoning County Land Bank acquired 85 parcels totaling 10.6 acres and will sell them to the company for the project.
The complex will be a project of MS Consultants Inc., architects and engineers, of Youngstown.
City council recently authorized the board of control to give the company a 75-percent, 10-year real-estate tax abatement.
The abatement will save the company an estimated $313,142 in taxes over 10 years, with Joseph Co. paying $86,841 during that time.
The company already has received a $1.5 million grant from the city and plans to be in full operation by 2018 with 50 employees.
Within three years of operating, Joseph Co. plans to have about 257 employees.
The business will be bounded by Oak Street, North Fruit Street, Himrod Avenue and the Madison Avenue Expressway. The area was a largely vacant East Side neighborhood with nearly every property owner there having sold to the city.
The location of the business has been a topic of controversy, with a few residents on the project site saying they didn’t want to move.
Council changed the area’s zoning from residential to green industrial in September.