Business, community leaders head to D.C. to lobby for Mahoning Valley
By Jordyn Grzelewski
Today, a contingent of local business leaders and elected officials will travel to the nation’s capital for the Mahoning Valley’s inaugural Washington, D.C. Fly-in.
The group of about 50 will meet with members of Congress and executive branch officials to lobby on behalf of the Mahoning Valley.
The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, noting that other communities in the state send representatives to D.C. and Columbus annually, organized the event, as well as a trip earlier this year to the state capital.
“Unless our community leaders are in the capitals pushing for what we want and amplifying the voices of our elected officials in D.C. and Columbus, we’re not going to do as well as our counterparts in other areas,” said Guy Coviello, vice president of government affairs for the chamber.
The meetings scheduled on the two-day trip will focus on three topics: security upgrades at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station; Camp Ravenna’s consideration for a new missile defense site; and revitalizing the Mahoning River.
“We would like funding to build a better, more secure gate,” Coviello said of YARS. “We also want to get new aircraft assigned to the air station.”
Camp Ravenna, a military training facility, is one of three sites being considered by the United States Missile Defense Agency for a missile-defense site. The chamber said the project would bring an investment of approximately $4.5 million, as well as 2,000 construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs to maintain the site.
Officials also will be discussing revitalizing the Mahoning River corridor from Braceville to Lowellville. Local officials have devised a three-part plan to accomplish that, with an estimated price tag of $100 million.
Participants in the fly-in include chamber leaders, including president/CEO James Dignan and Coviello; elected officials, including Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, state Rep. Glenn Holmes of McDonald, D-63rd, state Sen. Sean O’Brien of Bazetta, D-32nd, and Mahoning County Auditor Ralph Meacham; and representatives from a number of businesses and agencies, including Huntington Bank, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Vallourec, Aqua Ohio, Western Reserve Port Authority and Mercy Health.
Meetings are scheduled today with Matthew Donovan, Under Secretary of the Air Force, and numerous members of Congress, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, and Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican.
The delegation will have meetings at the White House Thursday.
For the inaugural trip, Coviello said the goal is to have federal officials “coming out of our meetings with a good understanding of what we want, what our issues are and respect for what we’ve already accomplished, so we can follow up and over time land concrete items.”