Fund for Warren’s Future makes first grant


The Fund for Warren’s Future to finance Youngstown Road Revival Project

(Warren, OH February 6, 2018)

The Fund for Warren’s Future (FWF) today announced its first grant for a project to help revitalize Youngstown Road. The grant of $20,000 is being made to Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) to support a project to promote investment opportunities and entrepreneurialism on Youngstown Road in the city of Warren.

Thanks to federal and state grants obtained by city of Warren engineer Paul Makosky,  the city is investing $4.1 million to rebuild the road, including a new road surface, new sidewalks, ADA ramps, and sewer drains between Laird Avenue and Ridge Road. The work began last fall and is expected to be completed in October 2018. TNP’s efforts are meant to lay a foundation for economic development that takes advantage of the city’s investment.

Warren Mayor, and FWF Board member, Doug Franklin says, “This project will transform one of the worst streets in the city into one of the nicest. More than 12,000 cars travel this stretch of Youngstown Road every day, and it will soon be a pleasure to do so.”

The TNP project will include a complete survey of buildings on the target portion of 422 along with details relevant to potential investors. TNP will also survey residents living near the street, asking them what types of services they would patronize if they were available to them. Current business on Youngstown Road will also be invited to participate in a separate research project to identify additional steps that might restore the street to its former position as a major commerce corridor.

The data from this research, as well as maps, and information on resources available to investors from local governments, will be compiled into a marketing book which will be distributed to entrepreneurs, developers and other potential investors, as identified by the research results.

TNP Executive Director Matt Martin says, “The health and economic vitality of this street affects several neighborhoods in important ways. A key element of TNP’s work is to be sure that it’s done in consultation with the people who live there. We think the market research will be very valuable; we value the input of the residents most concerned with Youngstown Road’s future and will seek it out in a variety of ways.”

FWF Board member Sam Covelli stated, “We felt that this project made sense, in part, because it leveraged a large investment already being made in the city,” and fellow Board member Anthony Payiavlas added, “We were impressed with TNP’s track record in doing this type of work and the professional credentials they bring to the project.”

The marketing report is expected to be completed and distributed in November this year.

The Fund for Warren’s Future was created in November 2017. The initial capitalization of $100,000 was through a transfer of $50,000 made from the city of Warren’s economic development fund, which was endorsed by a unanimous resolution of Warren City Council. That contribution was matched by $50,000 donated jointly by AVI Foodsystems, whose President and CEO is Mr. Payiavlas, and by Mr. and Mrs. Sam Covelli.

The fund is maintained by the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. FWF’s mission is to support projects that lead to economic development in the city of Warren.

Those interested in contributing to the fund, or in seeking a grant from it, should visit the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley web site:

For more information please contact FWF administrator:

Dennis Blank


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Last night in Council


I skipped the regular City Council meeting last night, but went to the caucus prior to the meeting to listen to Mr. Herb Washington ask Council for a resolution supporting his application to run a licensed marijuana dispensary in Warren. Mr. Washington is a very polished speaker, and a successful businessman who owns 26 McDonalds restaurants. He is applying for licenses to grow, process, and dispense marijuana products through a separate business entity, Quest Wellness LLC. Each of these three steps in the product distribution chain requires a difference license, and Washington feels confident that he will win at least one, in part because of set asides for minority owned businesses; 15% of dispensary licenses will go to minority or woman owned firms.

He told the room that Ohio is going to approve 60 dispensaries for the state, and that two will be in Ashtabula, Mahoning and Trumbull County. He expects a dispensary to empty about 50 permanent employees. His son Terrell, who was also there last night will run Quest. Terrell has been working in the family’s food business.

Washington said he plans to “give back” up to 5% of his profits to “the community.” He also estimated that once the business is up a running that it would pay an average of about $1.3 million per year in state and local taxes. This would imply that the business would be netting in excess of $20 million per year. Council passed the resolution.

All of the statements of fact in this post are quotes from Mr. Washington; I’ve made no attempt to verify them independently. Also, Washington is semi-famous; you can read about him on his Wikipedia page.

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The Fund for Warren’s Future


Here is the full text of the press release announcing the Fund for Warren’s Future. I will be writing about this in much more detail soon.

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Prominent local businessmen and City Government form the Fund for Warren’s Future

(October 17, 2017)

Two prominent Warren businessmen, Sam Covelli, C.E.O. of Covelli Enterprises, and Anthony Payiavlas, President and C.E.O. of AVI Foodsystems Inc., are joining forces with Mayor Doug Franklin and the City of Warren, to create the Fund for Warren’s Future (FWF or “the Fund”). The purpose of the Fund will be to initiate, promote and support economic development in the city of Warren, Ohio. The goals of the Fund are:

  • To encourage direct purchase of, or investment in, industrial, commercial and residential properties in the city of Warren
  • To encourage people to visit Warren in order to build on its position as the entertainment and dining capital of Trumbull County
  • To promote and support the growth of entrepreneurial activity in Warren through educational programs and infrastructure development
  • To create a proactive culture in Warren which understands that growth is critical to our future

The funds will be on deposit with, and managed by, the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. Projects will be selected by a Board comprised of Mr. Covelli, Mr. Payiavlas and Mayor Franklin. Dennis Blank, a Warren resident and the Publisher of Warren Expressed, will serve as the Board’s administrator. Board members and Blank will serve as unpaid volunteers.

The FWF will not invest in individual businesses. All funds will be distributed through non-profit organizations recognized as such by the IRS.

Capitalization of the Fund will be a two-step matching process; step-one will raise $100,000. $50,000 will be invested by the City of Warren; Messrs. Payiavlas and Covelli have agreed to match the City’s investment with a $50,000 investment of private capital.

City funds have already been appropriated and are on deposit in a City “Economic Development” account. The Fund for Warren’s Future, and the City’s financial participation, were supported by a unanimous resolution passed by Warren City Council on July 26, 2017 (#4624/17).

In step-two, Messrs. Payiavlas and Covelli will jointly invest up to an additional $50,000 of  matching funds, equal to contributions raised from other individuals, businesses or institutions. If this incremental fund-raising effort is successful, the fund will have total capitalization of at least $200,000.

The Board has identified nearly twenty projects that meet the FWF’s objectives, however, the Board will host community outreach meetings in order to receive input directly from Warren citizens.

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Update on tax increase


As promised, we will continue to update you on the results of the 1/2% city tax increase implemented this year. I recently attended a City Council Finance Committee meeting, and later met with the key players from the Citizens Committee which has been advising the administration on use of those funds.

I’m happy to report that all is going well. The generally financial condition of the City is the best it has been in more than a few years, and, in the view of the Citizens Committee, all promises related to use of the funds are being kept. Specifically:

  • The Fire Department is up to full strength and funds are being set aside for the date when the federal subsidies expire
  • Police hiring is lagging due to a shortage of qualified candidates; however, a new Civil Service test will be held shortly and the effort to bring the WPD up to authorized strength continues
  • The city is on target to spend at least a half million dollars on street repairs in 2017, as planned
  • An effort to initiate an economic development program for the city is also underway, and concrete results of that effort should be announced within 30 days
  • Through August, the city budget has operated in the black for the year and we currently have a cash balance of over $1.5 million.


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Important article


800x-1Normally, if there is a good article someplace worth reading, we just post a link on Facebook, but I came across something yesterday that deserves it’s own post. Bloomberg posted “There is Something the Matter with Ohio Too” that we should all read.

Sadly, our Buckeye homeland is lagging the nation in too many ways that are holding us back from growth. Ohio is steadily slipping into the ranks of lessor states, and the reasons go beyond the shrinking of rust belt industries. We lag in education, we lag in immigration and diversity, and we lag in technology. The one place in Ohio that doesn’t lag in these respects — Columbus — is thriving.

We can’t move forward if we don’t understand why we are where we are, which makes this worth reading.

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