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After three years of planning and building, officials at Vallourec Star in Youngstown officially celebrated its $1 billion dollar expansion project on Wednesday.
Vallourec formerly was known as V & M Star.
Sirens rang throughout the plant as the ribbon was cut. The global company has been building its position in the U.S. for 30 years and has seen a significant change in the past five years demanding the small seamless tubes the mill makes.
“We are going to have a world-class facility here in the emerging shale areas and in North America. The market demand seems to be supportive for us and we are poised to be the leader there,” said Joel Mastervich, president and CEO of aVallourec Star.
Vallourec is initially producing 350,000 tons of the tubes used in the shale industry.
“The experts with the oil and gas business predicted the economy in this area would turn around the next 100, 200 years and this proves it. You have a company investing over $1 billion in the Youngtown area, so they are not investing to lose money,” said Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone.
The Youngstown plant complements Vallourec’s existing facilities around the world.
“There we have great access, an interstate highway, that we can finish product here and go directly to the Utica and Marcellus. We can go west to the mid-continent or we can go to our finishing facilities in Houston or Oklahoma and serve customers in other locations,” said Skip Herald, managing director for Vallourec North America.
This has been an expansion three years in the making. Former Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams, who now works for the Obama administration, said it began with communities working together.
“When we worry less about political boundaries and more about regional benefit and worry less about who gets credit more about getting things done, this is what can happen. We are redefining how manufacturing and economies grow in this country,” Williams said.
The Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber estimates that the expansion has had a $1 billion impact to the community and has created at least 2,000 spinoff jobs.
Vallourec Star hired 350 employees with the expansion and at the height of construction, 1,000 builders were working on it. They have also created new partnerships with YSU.
Goals for the future include ramping up production, making steel pipes from 2 3/8 in to 10 3/4 inches in diameter, and eventually offer storage opportunities for customers.
The site covers 200 acres and is 1 million square feet. If someone walks around the perimeter of the facility, the distance is 2 miles.
The demand for the company’s premium pipe and connections has increased dramatically thanks to the shale boom.