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Economic development in the Mahoning Valley is on the upswing, according to the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber’s 2012 annual report card.
Last year, companies pumped $406 million into the local economy. That translated into 1,641 new jobs and the retention of 5,553 jobs.
The largest employment increase came from the demand for welders, but chamber officials said they are working to diversify the economy to accommodate everyone looking for a job.
“Companies want to see if there’s other development going on in an area. Clearly the oil and gas industry knows what’s going on here. But in looking at other opportunties to make sure we’re diversifying the Mahoning Valley, we don’t want to stick with one industry. We want to make sure there is a job opportunity for everyone involved,” said Sarah Boyarko, vice president of economic development for the chamber.
Boyarko said 2013 is following the same positive trend so far.
Local companies like ARS Recycling Systems in Lowellville doubled business over the last few years and attributes part of its success to the resources in the Mahoning Valley. The company primarily manufactures abrasive grit recycling machines and dust collectors that are used for refinishing large steel structures.
“It’s so exciting to be a part of this Northeastern Ohio area because we have the best of everything. We have the best engineers, many coming out of YSU. We have the best mechanics and best subcontractors,” said ARS President and CEO Thomas Herrmann.
ARS has called the Youngstown area home for the past 20 years.
Herrmann said the demand for his company’s product has been great the past few years and he expects business to double again over the next few years.
The chamber report shows the Youngstown-Warren region’s jobless figures were lower than the national averages seven times during 2012, and the unemployment rate dropped from 9.4 percent in 2011 to 8.1 percent in 2012. That rate was equal to the national average, but higher than Ohio’s rate of 7.1 percent.
Job increases in the manufacturing sector grew by 1.6 percent over the year, with trade increasing 2.6 percent, education and health services increasing 1.4 percent and leisure and hospitality increasing 2.8 percent, according to the report. Construction jobs dropped by 2.5 percent over the year and the government sector decreased by 0.9 percent.
The chamber’s 2012 report card was based on reports from 12 economic development entities:
- Business Resource Network
- City of Warren
- City of Youngstown
- Eastgate Regional Council of Governments
- Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp.
- Ohio Small Business Development Center at YSU
- Trumbull County Planning Commission
- Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corp.
- Western Reserve Port Authority
- Youngstown Business Incubator
- Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber