Youngstown mayor confirms plans to build self-chilling can plant

The project is expected to create 230 to 260 new jobs, paying anywhere from $8 to $20 an hour

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The mayor of Youngstown has confirmed and released some details of a major development project planned for an old neighborhood on the city’s lower east side. 

Mayor John McNally on Monday afternoon announced “the intention of the Joseph Company International Inc. of Irvine, California, to build a beverage complex and technology campus…that will produce the world’s first and only self-chilling beverage can.”

The project is expected to create 230 to 260 new jobs, paying anywhere from $8 to $20 an hour.

Youngstown’s Economic Development Director Sharon Woodberry told city council how the company has committed to build a plant to make Chill-Cans that are chilled by pushing a button.

“Obviously this is a project that we’re very excited about,” she said. “They will, beyond the beverage industry, be looking at other industries, including the cosmetic industry and NASA.”

According to the company’s website, “The self-chilling Chill-Can… has a built-in Heat Exchange Unit which contains the technology necessary to chill the drink in under a minute. Upon pressing the button at the base of the can, the patented technology activates the environmentally-safe reclaimed CO2…that leads to the chilling of the beverage.”

The CEO of the Joseph Company is Youngstown native Mitchell Joseph, whose great-grandfather founded and operated the Star Bottling Company from 1921 to 1970 on the same location where the new Chill-Can plant will be built.

“We are excited about this project and the world-class beverage technology applications that will be developed on this campus,” McNally said.

The campus will be built on 21 acres of land that council recently rezoned from residential to commercial. The land is bounded by Oak Street, Lane Avenue, Fruit Street and Himrod Avenue.

The mayor says plans call for construction of four large production buildings and an administrative headquarters. It will cost approximately $20 million to build.

Groundbreaking is planned for November of 2016, and the buildings should be finished by summer 2017 and be in full operation by 2018.

For the owners of the Royal Oaks, the project is very good news.

John Kennedy and his brother have owned the business for 15 years. Soon, they’ll be right across the street from the new Chill-Can plant.

“We keep seeing buildings coming down around us in the last 15 years. Everything’s coming down, we’re losing customers. It’s great news to hear we’re maybe going to get some customers back,” Kennedy said.

The city was negotiating with several homeowners in the neighborhood to buy their properties so the development project could move forward. It has been buying land around the plant, and is down to just two lots and the house owned by 88-year-old Bertha Tillis.

A Tillis family spokesperson said they’ve made an offer to the city and are standing firm so Bertha can be relocated comfortably.

Bobbe Reynolds, who lives on the east side, was at the council meeting and wonders why other land on the east side land couldn’t have been used.

“I am all for economic development and I’m very grateful that someone is coming into the area,” he said. “I feel very bad for the individuals who may be displaced.”

The mayor did not address the status of the negotiations or if the failure to reach agreements would hold up the project.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show the cost of construction of four large production buildings and an administrative headquarters will be $20 million, not $200 million as initially reported.