Gas taxes in PA pushing businesses just over border into Ohio

STRUTHERS, Ohio (WYTV) – How far would you drive for cheaper gas? Pennsylvania state taxes are leading to more business development in Ohio, specifically at the border.

Mike Kassem, owner of Morgan Oil in Struthers, said a new tax in PA made him decide it was time to expand his business to Route 224 in Lowellville.

“It’s going to be kind of a truck stop. We’re going to have take-out food and a place for people to sit and eat their food,” he said.

Kassem plans to build the new truck stop on 40 acres of land across the street from the Dairy 224 convenience store. That’s just a few feet from the Pennsylvania-Ohio border.

He said the deciding factor was the tax on gas — 58 cents in PA but only 28 cents in Ohio.

The nearest gas station across the state line from his proposed location is a 10-minute drive to Sheetz, where gas is $2.85 — about 50 cents more than average prices in Ohio.

The drivers WKBN talked to Wednesday night said they would be willing to drive to save money on gas.

Gas isn’t the only reason Kassem wants to build in Ohio. Pennsylvania smokers pay, on average, $11 more per carton of cigarettes than in Ohio and anyone looking to buy alcohol in PA must buy it at a state store. In Ohio, you can go to any number of private stores for drinks.

“It will bring business and it’s going to create jobs for the area. Then, hopefully, more business will be coming to that area where 224 will be developing,” Kassem said.

His truck stop won’t take up nearly as much of the 40 acres he bought but he hopes to expand if enough business comes his way.

“I might have more. We might put a car wash, we might have a plaza. We’ll see how the area develops,” Kassem said.

The building currently on the property used to be the Standard Slag corporate offices but has been vacant for nearly two decades. Kassem said he’s going to knock it down and build everything new.