GIRARD - VAM, a sister company of V&M Star and also owned by V&M mothership Vallourec & Mannesmann Tubes, has decided to expand by opening a pipe finishing plant on the site, a prospect that is exciting for local business operators.
"When they opened up V&M there, it picked up, so another one just means that much more business," said Chris Costello, a shift manager at Jib Jab Hot Dog Shop. Costello said the construction workers at the expansion site have increased business significantly, often calling in large lunch orders of more than 50 hot dogs.
Costello said Jib Jab recently completed another round of hiring and has brought on 10 additional employees since V&M began the expansion project.
The VAM pipe finishing plant will be housed in the former sheet and tube building. The renovations are set to begin the third quarter of 2012.
"It's exciting," said Girard Mayor James Melfi. "I've seen the area boom when the mills were operating, I've seen the destruction that occurred when they closed, and now I'm seeing the revitalization of the area, at least at this site."
Melfi said the new plant will bring additional income tax revenue from the construction workers who will be hired to renovate the sheet and tube building. The construction income tax revenue represents the bulk of windfall profits for Girard.
The past six months have yielded nearly $50,000 per month in construction tax profits, though November's check paid only around $19,000, Melfi said. The new project will extend the time that Girard enjoys those construction profits, which would have run out upon completion of the new building, leaving the city with only the V&M employees' income tax revenue, he said.
"I think it's great for the area," Belleria Pizza franchise owner Ryan Kelly said of the latest news. "Hopefully it will create a big buzz all up and down (Route) 422, from Girard up through Youngstown."
Kelly said his business has seen added value since construction began on the V&M Star expansion and worker trainees now on site are helping to continue the trend.
Girard Treasurer John Moliterno said the city has been awaiting such activity at the site ever since the V&M expansion began.
"What's really interesting is that we're starting to see some of the ancillary V&M companies becoming involved there," he said. "It certainly couldn't be more exciting for those of us in Girard and in the Mahoning Valley.''
Melfi said the V&M project is repairing Girard's economy and drawing new business.
"It's really inspiring, and I have to pinch myself sometimes," he said.