Ribbon cut for Exterran plant

YOUNGSTOWN – Employees at the new Exterran plant in Youngstown are ”chomping at the bit” to get the facility that fabricates equipment for the oil and natural gas industry up to ”full steam,” its president and CEO Brad Childers said.

But first, he took part in the ceremonial ribbon-cutting Tuesday celebrating the future of the new plant on the city’s West Side.

Calling it a ”great day” for the Houston-based company, Childers, with Gov. John Kasich and other business executives and state officials, dedicated the 65,000-square-foot Salt Springs Road facility.

About 60 people are already working, and about another 40 will be hired over the next couple months. Some component parts for the pieces produced by Exterran have been built, but it will be about another three weeks before the first fully assembled piece of equipment is out the door.

Kasich cited the plant opening as an example of how the Mahoning Valley can recover from taking an economic punch.

”It’s Youngstown and you know, the sun is coming up. It’s fantastic. We see lots of activity and it goes along with what is an incredibly indomitable spirit,” Kasich said.

”There is something about Youngstown. I don’t know if it’s the water, I don’t know what it is … but it seems like no matter how many times people get knocked down here, we just get back on our feet and have a great attitude and it just makes such a difference that we see this whole Valley now beginning to regenerate itself.”

The Republican governor also announced that Ohio’s rank on Chief Executive Magazine’s best and worst states for business has improved, from 44th in 2010 to 22nd this year. The ratings, released by the magazine Monday, show Ohio improved 13 spots from last year, when it sat at number 35.

”We have improved 22 spots,” Kasich said. ”We are now 22nd and the fastest-improving economy, job friendly economy in the United States of America.”

The plant is dedicated to the fabrication of production equipment used to treat or otherwise process natural gas and oil after it is extracted from the ground such as separation, dehydration, natural gas conditioning, oil treating and conditioning, filtration and air emissions control.

Kasich pointed out the high-tech, cutting edge fabrication equipment that will be used in the advanced manufacturing there, saying ”It’s not your old man’s steel mill anymore.”

The governor also called for a diversification of business activity and greater engagement from technical schools, colleges and on other levels of education to prepare for and train in these advanced manufacturing-type jobs.

Childers said he sees the potential for expansion at the site, picked because its a ”great center point” for transportation in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, a ”quality work force,” and the incentives offered to Exterran to locate here.

Youngstown beat locations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania to land the plant. Regional Chamber president and CEO Tom Humphries said ”it really was a team effort” by Team NEO, the chamber and city to convince Exterran to build in Youngstown.

Others who spoke were Youngstown Mayor Chuck Sammarone; David Mustine, managing director of the state’s JobsOhio; and Tom Waltermire, president of Team NEO.