The Mahoning River flows through the eastern portion of the NEOSCC planning area before it eventually empties into the Ohio River in Pennsylvania. The Mahoning River was once considered the heart of the steel industry in the United States, where industrial development grew the cities of Youngstown, Warren, Newton Falls, Struthers and many others along its winding path. Commonly known as “The Valley,” this region experienced massive hemorrhaging of industrial and manufacturing jobs in the 1970s and 1980s. The result was population decline and disinvestment in traditional neighborhoods and urban centers that continues today. Additionally, the environmental impact of the industry in The Valley has made the Mahoning River infamous. The river is the only surface water body in Northeast Ohio where the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) has labeled its waters unfit for human contact from Warren to the Pennsylvania state line. More detailed information on the latest monitoring data and clean-up requirements is available from Ohio EPA. Despite the challenges, however, a tremendous initiative to clean and reuse abandoned brownfields, improve water quality, expand recreational opportunity and generate new economic development along the Mahoning River is now underway: The Mahoning River Corridor Initiative (MRCI).
Housed at the Youngstown State University Center for Urban and Regional Studies, the MRCI is a regional brownfield and urban development collaboration of nine municipalities, Youngstown State University and four non-profit corporations. Among its goals are promoting the opportunities for economic development that exist in the Mahoning River corridor communities. One of the major outputs of the MRCI is a Feasibility Report that:
- Describes the Mahoning River Corridor Initiative
- Identifies, maps, and inventories 16 brownfield project sites involving over 800 acres in the river corridor (these sites are available for further economic development and recreational or environmental enhancement).
- Identifies 11 major infrastructure projects related to those sites.
- Identifies eight environmental/preservation enhancement areas and 12 recreational enhancement projects.
A copy of the MRCI Feasibility Report is available on the organization’s news website.
Dan Mamula, former mayor of Struthers and NEOSCC Board Member, manages the MRCI. Dan is available to answer questions about the development opportunities available in the corridor area and direct developers to helpful resources. Questions about MCRI may be directed to Dan Mamula by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by telephone (330.941.1850). Additional information about MRCI may also be found through the project’s website (http://cfweb.cc.ysu.edu/psi/mrci/index.html), including success stories within the MRCI partner communities.