When Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley’s economic turnaround is mentioned, most think of the resurgence of the steel industry. New steel has been needed, in part, because of the oil and gas industry in Ohio and throughout the country. Shale exploration has helped companies like V&M Star, US Steel, Republic Steel and TMK Steel make a comeback in their industry. Just one small example was on display yesterday as Vallourec Star, previously branded V&M Star, had a dedication ceremony for their new $1 billion plant in Youngstown which was made possible, in large part, thanks to surging demand from shale development.
The plant was first announced in February 2010 to meet the demands for small-diameter pipe used for hydraulic fracturing. Throughout exploration, it can take over 10,000 feet of steel to reach a shale formation. The plant, initially expected to cost $650 million, cost $1 billion and has provided 350 jobs to Ohioans. The company said they picked Youngstown for various reasons, including an already present skilled workforce, a history of manufacturing in the area, and the desire to serve a burgeoning oil and gas industry in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The pipe mill was completed in September 2011 and in October 2012 began to produce piping for sales to U.S. and Canadian markets. The finishing mill was completed this month and the plant expects to increase production to 350,000 tons by the end of 2013. Vallourec’s 2009 decision to open the plant in Youngstown was unexpected, but proved beneficial to the company. The Youngstown site is considered the hub of their oil and gas service operations and the company is now the top domestic supplier of tube products needed in shale development.
The Ohio plant is not only supplying Ohio’s growing oil and gas industry, but is also supporting the growing industry in Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Texas, and various other states. Tom Humphries, president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber commented on the wide market and how Ohio is benefitting:
“It’s huge for us. It shows the rest of the world that a major global corporation has a strong interest in investing in the Youngstown-Warren area. It makes a significant statement that this is a good place to do business. This isn’t just serving the Marcellus and Utica shale plays. It’s serving a very wide market area, and that’s important to the Ohio economy.”—Tom Humphries (Vallourec will dedicate new mill today, 6/12/13)
The Vallourec mill has not only provided permanent jobs, but has also provided temporary jobs through construction and electrical work. The project has also anchored the economic revival of the Route 422 corridor, a once flourishing industrial area that had not seen new investment in decades. The Trumbull County Planning Commission, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, as well as the cities of Girard and Youngstown, are sharing information and resources to study other potential growth along the corridor.
The hope is that the incredible investment put forward by Vallourec will encourage other global companies to have confidence in the area and invest. State Senator Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd, explained how Vallourec has helped the Valley:
“The most important part about [Vallourec] is they’re employing people from the Valley and giving them a chance to live here, spend money here and raise a family. If we can get more [Vallourecs] in the next few years, we’ll be on the right path.”—State Senator Joe Schiavoni (Vallourec will dedicate new mill today, 6/12/13)
Yesterday marked a new period for the Youngstown region. After years of economic stagnation, the city is once again a part of the global economy and showing the importance of Ohio’s shale industry.