Downtown Warren is on the move - and we are seeing the seeds of a renaissance bloom.
Walk downtown and you will see the renovated Wean Building, a $2.5 million investment, and with National Fire Repair Inc. moving downtown, a substantially brightened up Market Street. Because of the leadership of Kenny Haidaris and Marty Cohen, both downtown businessmen, on any summer Saturday night thousands are dancing at the "River Rock at the Amp" events at the Warren Amphitheatre.
New and existing businesses are seeing new hope - and making the investments that will bring further opportunities. Two of those investments in the future include the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center (TBEIC) and the Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC), both primed to transform the face of downtown and the Warren economy by providing, each in their own way, education, innovation and entrepreneurial risk taking.
The Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center is investing more than $3 million to renovate and modernize the Kresge Building on East Market Street. TBEIC represents another front in our economic expansion, and is the kind of investment that requires some forethought and patience up front, but will yield incredible dividends once it's operational.
TBEIC is on track to become a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of energy development and storage, a crucial element of our nation's economic future as we look to move away from our dependence on foreign oil. TBEIC will help bring new energy solutions along with new investments, new jobs and new opportunities for growth in the heart of our city. It is yet another piece of the puzzle, along with the Youngstown Business Incubator and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, in making the Mahoning Valley a national center for technology innovation.
Eastern Gateway Community College has almost 900 students enrolled in its downtown Youngstown facility, and has recently committed to replicating that success in Warren by signing a 20-year lease in the Chase building downtown. This newly renovated facility will have state-of-the-art classrooms, computer labs and offices.
Eastern Gateway's objectives are all focused on goals that will lift up the entire community: increasing enrollment and enhancing accessibility and affordability that will provide students the education they need to be trained in the skills required by a new economy. The EGCC's commitment to creating more opportunities in downtown Warren lays a great foundation for our workforce and will bring significant new foot traffic to our downtown businesses and restaurants.
The educational and work opportunities coming to downtown Warren are just the beginning. This significant momentum, coupled with creative financing tools such as the new market tax credits, federal and state historic tax credits, will give local investors the opportunity to turn properties like the Robins Theater into viable businesses again, and create a downtown that's great for work and leisure.
Education centers, business growth, and cultural opportunities are all on the horizon in downtown Warren. Our goal is to emphasize a quality of life with good-paying job opportunities, and amenities like theatres and restaurants, bike trails and riverwalks - those things that will encourage our children to be educated here, to work here - and spend their lives here.
This week we reflected on those things for which we are thankful. I want everyone to know that I am thankful for the resilient spirit of the people of Warren. It is that heart that built this great community, and it is that spirit that is driving the renaissance of downtown. This enthusiasm has downtown Warren on the move, and it is giving our kids a reason to return home to Warren and help us keep this momentum going.
Ryan is the U.S. representative in the 13th Congressional District.