HomeGoods is big opportunity

As a leader, I’ve always encouraged patience with regard for the big picture, despite any immediate set-backs. And I’d say the same today as I look at the economic outlook for Trumbull County, even with our latest challenges.

Last month, more than a thousand people lost their jobs at General Motors’ Lordstown Assembly Complex, and now some of GM’s suppliers have also been forced to make additional layoffs. Trumbull County already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, above the national average, so we can’t afford to lose jobs. I see a better future ahead, and I’m confident we have the strength to pursue it and overcome today’s hurdles.

To grow into a thriving employment center and rise to the top of Ohio’s economy, we’ll need to change our game plan. We need to take definitive action to build our economy and make the Mahoning Valley a welcoming place for businesses, both old and new, to thrive.

Today, the proposed new HomeGoods distribution center off I-80 and Ellsworth Bailey Road in Lordstown is our biggest opportunity to do that — reshaping the economy not just of the village, but the surrounding area. The project, which would bring at least 1,000 jobs to the area over the next five years, presents an exciting opportunity for Lordstown and the broader region. Throughout my coaching career, I’ve always believed in creating opportunities. That’s the kind of economic development we need here, and I’m confident we’ll achieve it if we continue to welcome businesses that support career path development for their workers.

And we want to tell stories about our young people graduating from universities like Youngstown State, Kent State or Eastern Gateway Community College and staying right here in the valley, owning homes and making Trumbull County an even better place to live. True economic growth depends on having a pipeline of talented workers, and so I was pleased when I had the opportunity to speak with the HomeGoods team recently to hear of their plans to work with local colleges to develop internships and conduct on-campus recruiting.

It’s a long-term strategy that with some luck, should pay off for decades to come, especially as other businesses begin to recognize the great talent we offer right here. Ohio’s tax credits form a strong incentive for businesses to come here, but it’s up to us to welcome them and openly to encourage them to stay. If we can do that with HomeGoods, we’ll open the door to even more economic growth.

We can do it. I know we can, and I’m excited to see it happen. We can start by embracing this new distribution center as the first step toward our long-term winning strategy. One of my favorite inspirations, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wisely advised, “Only in growth, reform and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.”

Let’s embrace this new center and strengthen the economy of Lordstown and the broader region. I see great things ahead for this region. Go Lordstown!

Jim Tressel is a community leader and board member of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber.