YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The ground breaking for a big industrial plant brought much excitement Monday to Lane Avenue in Youngstown.
The Joseph Company plant will produce part of the first and only self-chilling beverage can, known as the Chill-Can, on 10.6 acres of land on the east side.
The $20 million Chill-Can Beverage Complex and Technology Center will create hundreds of jobs in the area, and is the first major investment in the city since the Vallourec Star project five or six years ago, according to Mayor John McNally.
Bringing jobs back to the east side of Youngstown is important for Joseph Company CEO Mitchell Joseph. The east side is where his family business, Star Bottling, started in 1921.
“Bottling dad’s old fashioned root beer and Squirt,” Joseph reminisced, recalling bottling trucks lined along the road.
“I think the appropriate title for today really is the homecoming aspect of having Mitchell Joseph and his company back in the City of Youngstown,” McNally said.
“It’s 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 from 240 to 250 jobs to a city.”
The Joseph Company is now based out of California.
In 1946, Star Bottling opened a second facility in Columbus. The Joseph Company wasn’t sure how difficult it would be to build in Youngstown, so its first choice when recently thinking about expanding was to go back to Columbus. That is until Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel convinced Joseph otherwise.
“He said, ‘Mitchell, you got to come back here where the story began,’ and he’s absolutely right,” Joseph said.
The Youngstown plant is going to stay busy. The Joseph Company’s California facility can produce up to 28 million self-chilling cans.
“This property [in Youngstown] will do one billion, so we’ll service everything up to Boston, down to Florida, out to Dallas,” Joseph said.
He plans on bringing interns from the program in California to work in Youngstown. In California, the company has internships in marketing, production, advertising and engineering.
Joseph says he’d like to see a similar internship project with YSU, giving local students a new learning experience.
“The innovation and technology developments, the [research and development] that’s going to go on these facilities is going to be a tremendous thing with our STEM school, our students, internships,” Tressel said.
As far as job opportunities, Joseph says there will be an array of different talent.
“From skilled labor and unskilled labor, all the way up to master’s in engineering.”
The plant in Youngstown will also handle logistics, including transportation, for business in Europe.
The future of the Chill-Can could expand into the cosmetic industry with cooling creams, and even medicine.
“There’s a lot of medical applications for this that require things to be cold. Even sports medicine with braces that lock an injury in, and self-chill it and keep it cold,” Joseph said.
The Chill-Can Beverage Complex and Technology Center will have a few different buildings. The plan is to have production buildings built by late summer of 2017 and start production in 2018.
Some residents of the occupied homes on the property have reached a deal with the city and will be moving. McNally says they understand what this investment means to the city.
“They understood the need for more jobs in the area, so they have been very fair with us and I think we’re trying to be very fair with them on trying to purchase some of the remaining properties.”
He says there are still more deals to work out, but thinks it will happen soon and come to peaceful resolutions.
The city has been looking at bringing investments to six Youngstown areas. McNally says the second investment will be the Wick Avenue area near old car dealerships that are being torn down.