Officials seek advocacy under new contract

Niles, regional chamber focus on economic growth

Tribune Chronicle / Jon Wysochanski Councilman Barry Profato stands outside Eastwood Field in Niles. The tadium is the focus of economic development efforts in Niles.

NILES — With a new yearlong contract approved between the city and the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber, city officials plan to continue focusing on economic development in Niles and lobbying efforts at the state level.

The city first contracted with the regional chamber in February 2017 for economic development purposes at a cost of $30,000 and under that contract, the regional chamber performed a property inventory and identification of available or vacant commercial and industrial buildings and land; began a process of community outreach; and conducted business retention and expansion visits with businesses throughout the city.

Sarah Boyarko, regional chamber senior vice president of economic development, said the chamber will continue to focus on those efforts under the new contract.

“If you don’t know what’s available in your community, you’re never going to grow,” Boyarko said of inventory efforts that will continue. “We will continue to work with the city to help them create a better relationship with their business community. Over the years, there might not have been as much proactive outreach.”

The city paid an extra $5,000 this year — or $35,000 — for the Regional Chamber to provide government services for capital budget applications and assistance in identifying eligible projects, guiding officials through the application processes and advocating for awards at the state level.

The regional chamber partners with Columbus-based Swing State Strategies as a way to provide local governments representation on state and federal policy issues and legislation as well as capital budget applications.

The primary focus of lobbying efforts in the coming months will be securing $1.8 million through the capital budget for renovations to Eastwood Field, according to Guy Coviello, chamber vice president of government affairs. The city should know by April how much the state will dole out for stadium renovations, Coviello said.

“We work through Swing State, but they do the heavy lifting in Columbus on a day-to-day basis,” Coviello said.

The stadium generates income, sales and bed taxes, Coviello said, and it provides a “great quality-of-life asset for the Mahoning Valley.” This is something at-Large Councilman Barry Profato, who has come out as a strong supporter of the regional chamber’s partnership with Niles, agrees with.

Profato, who chairs the community development and neighborhood stabilization committee, said the Regional Chamber will provide excellent advocacy at the state level.

“We’re going after every bit of money we can get through this advocacy,” Profato said. “You can’t eat the food unless you’re sitting at the table, and we’re going to sit at the table.”

In Trumbull County, the Regional Chamber also has contracts with Trumbull County and Weathersfield Township.