Western Reserve Port Authority gives $100K to Lake to River Economic Development

Western Reserve Port Authority gives $100K to development group

YOUNGSTOWN — Lake to River Economic Development — formed in April to stimulate job creation and business growth in the Mahoning Valley and beyond — has received another sizable investment, this time from the Western Reserve Port Authority.

The $100,000 donation is the second of its kind to Lake to River in as many weeks.

On May 7, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments — another economic development agency — also invested $100,000 to Lake to River to help in its mission across Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana and Ashtabula counties.

“This is an amazing opportunity for the Mahoning Valley,” Anthony Trevena, port authority executive director, said of Lake to River, which he called a “direct link” to Columbus and JobsOhio.

Lake to River is the seventh network region of JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development corporation. Before its creation, the four counties were part of Team NEO.

The local funding will support Lake to River’s operations, which are also partially funded by JobsOhio. The agency also will provide business, site and talent development services, as well as project management.

“The more we invest in growing our local economic base for this region, the better off we all are,” Trevena said.

The port authority is an economic development organization in Trumbull and Mahoning counties that also oversees the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

In addition to the contributions from the port authority and Eastgate, other funding is coming from the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber Foundation, which has given $500,000, and $400,000 is coming from money commissioners in Trumbull and Mahoning counties committed to Valley Vision 2050, an economic development and recovery project.

Also, the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber will forward about $300,000 in fees to Lake to River for economic development services it formerly performed, but have transitioned over to the new organization.

The money from the port authority comes from funding set aside to help sister economic development and other agencies, Trevena said. It’s raised through fees from projects done by the port authority.

Eastgate’s contribution is from $2.5 million it was given in 2021 as part of a $12 million settlement between the state and General Motors, which agreed to invest the money into the Mahoning Valley on education and training, community programs and / or infrastructure. The automaker agreed to the payment as part of a deal with Ohio for breaking tax credit agreements received in 2008 when it closed the former GM Lordstown assembly plant in 2019.

On Wednesday, after the port authority board voted to approve the $100,000 gift, its members presented a ceremonial check to Alexa Sweeney Blackann, interim CEO of Lake to River; Sarah Boyarko, the organization’s vice president of economic development; and Michael McGiffin, vice president of engagement and investor relations for Lake to River.

“These are partnering organizations, which is important, and the reason I think they are in early is because they know what this means because they are in the economic development ecosystem,” McGiffin said of the contributions from the port authority and Eastgate.

This sort of support is precedent-setting, McGiffin said to show the state and JobsOhio the community “means business,” appreciates the opportunity that’s been given and is “putting our money where our mouth is. This is a real thing. We want to see success here and are willing to fund it.”

“We’re grateful to the Western Reserve Port Authority for this investment, this early and large investment. We’re grateful to the members of the port authority board who were instrumental and moving this entity into fruition and grateful for Anthony Trevena for his leadership in this as well,” McGiffin said.


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