Media around the nation are starting to learn this is not their father's Mahoning Valley economy.
Two different television stations from Tokyo are expected to arrive later this month to report on the area's upswing, Regional Chamber spokesman Tony Paglia said Monday.
NBC news reporter Harry Smith recently filmed a segment that's expected to broadcast on the network's "Rock Center with Brian Williams" program, Paglia said.
The latest report came Monday when economic development group Team NEO detailed the Valley's business growth in its Cleveland Plus Economic review of the fourth quarter.
The report highlighted not only the Valley's natural gas shale drilling boom but also food manufacturing and distribution.
The section titled, "Developments ignite Youngstown-Warren area," focused on McDonald's fast food chain supplier Anderson-Dubose Inc.'s decision to locate a distribution center in Lordstown. It also reported on expansions by PurFoods in North Jackson and Summer Gardens in Boardman.
Paglia said the economic surge is making the Valley a media darling.
"There's hardly a day that we don't get a call from some national media asking for an interview or saying they're coming to town to do a story," he said. ''The trend started a couple of years ago and has really gotten more pronounced in the last six months."
Youngstown's program to remake itself as a smaller city also is attracting attention, Paglia said, adding the stories are "99 percent positive. Word is getting around about the area."
Paglia said NBC's original purpose for coming to the area was to do a story about the old image - high unemployment and urban poverty. The network changed its focus once it saw stories about how the area is among the top for job and manufacturing growth, he said.
The Youngstown-Warren jobless rate has fallen 38 percent from 13.7 percent in March 2010 to 8.5 percent in December, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
The improvement outpaced the national drop of 21.7 percent from 10.6 percent in January 2010 to 8.3 percent in March, as well as the state's gain of 34.5 percent from 11.6 percent to 7.6 percent in the same period.
The jobless rates are not adjusted for seasonal factors such as retail hiring for the holidays or construction job gains in the spring.
Drilling and spinoff jobs related to Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas exploration has added about 1,000 jobs, but other industrial employers are contributing even more.
The General Motors Co. Lordstown Complex added 1,200 for a third shift to make the hot-selling Chevrolet Cruze, while RG Steel's mill on Warren's south side contributed 1,000-plus jobs when it restarted.
Team NEO's report pointed out growth has come from a more diversified array of employers, including food service that employs nearly 18,000 and is projected to grow faster than national food manufacturing through 2019.
The result is northeast Ohio's economy is performing better than the nation's, with the lowest unemployment rate in three years at 7.6 percent.
The Gross Regional Product is projected to top $184 billion in 2012.