Triangle’s upgrades help with expansion

HOWLAND — Dale Gebhardt Sr. was looking to expand the business he operates in the area of Trumbull County known as the Golden Triangle.

But the president / general manager of Flex-Strut Inc., which makes slot metal framing, realized the necessity of improving the infrastructure in the industrial area that spans Howland and Warren, with a small portion stretching into Bazetta.

On Friday, Gebhardt discussed the company’s recently completed expansion — its fifth in 20 years — during a news conference and ribbon cutting outside the 2900 Commonwealth Ave. NE facility that employs some 90 workers.

“Some people talk about projects getting done according to government speed,” Gebhardt said. “But this project was completed at the speed of light. These improvements are an investment not only in Flex-Strut, but the companies and businesses around us.”

Gebhardt said Flex-Strut’s recent 13,000-square-foot expansion increases the square footage of the plant to 115,000.

The work was completed in less than six months, he noted. It was made possible through a $282,000 public funding package that included an Appalachian Regional Commission grant, Ohio Department of Transportation funds and local resources.

The effort included improvements to access roads, the extension of waterlines to provide a more reliable water source and the addition of fire hydrants.

Funds also were used to realign, widen and reconstruct Mill and Supreme streets, which are centrally located in the triangle.

The improvements also benefit nearby Thompson Mechanical and the new Fastenal facility located on the corner of North River Road and Larchmont Avenue.

Howland Trustee Chairman Rick Clark said the success of the project can be attributed to “the collaborative spirit of the Golden Triangle partners and the business leaders.”

The project was included in the Golden Triangle Infrastructure Improvement Plan that recommends several infrastructure improvement projects in the triangle area to help grow businesses there.

“We are making good progress in seeing the plan through,” Clark said.

Trumbull County Deputy Engineer Gary Shaffer said the improvements will contribute to job growth as businesses expand.

Friday’s event was held jointly by Howland and Warren officials and the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office.