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Mahoning Valley Begins Slow Climb Back - Crain's Cleveland Business


What comes to mind when someone says the Mahoning Valley? The region's post-industrial downfall? Its shifting political alliances? The rampant opioid epidemic? Those are all valid stories about the region. But, despite what national media coverage might lead you to believe, they're not the only stories.The region still faces plenty of challenges, but in both Youngstown and Warren, efforts to revitalize the cities at the heart of the Mahoning Valley are underway, led by entrepreneurs opening new businesses and renovating buildings, and by neighborhood development corporations cleaning up blight. It's taken a long time for the region to even consider rebuilding after its major manufacturing base left. After "Black Monday" in 1977, when Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. announced thousands of layoffs, the city of Warren didn't fall into a depression overnight. It was more "gradual," said Michael D. Keys, community development director for Warren. "I think at the time, a lot of people said, 'Oh, it's going to come back,' " Keys said. "And there was sort of that denial, so like, with grief. You know, the 10 stages of grief, the 10 stages of economics. And I think what we're seeing now is that we've reached the bottom a while back, and we're now on our way up." Disclosures up front: I was born in Warren and lived there as a child before my family moved to one of the city's suburbs about 10 minutes away. I attended a Catholic elementary school, and church, in Warren. I got my start as a reporter at the Tribune Chronicle, first as a writer for its teen page and then as a freelancer throughout college. I've spent a lot of money at the Mocha House. That's why I've been confused by the post-election trope that, in an effort to explain why so much of the Mahoning Valley turned away from the Democrats, depicts the region as a wasteland of industrial ruin. That might have been true 30 years ago, but for those of us who missed the region's manufacturing heyday and instead compare the Mahoning Valley to what it was one or even two decades ago, the difference is striking.

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