May 26, 2004 - LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Economic decay could be the salvation of Youngstown, Ohio.
The industrial city, which once had a population of 250,000, has been impacted by the elimination of manufacturing jobs, and its population now stands at 80,000.
But according to Richard Ouzounian, who runs the Youngstown Warren Film Commission, the town is a virtual film set waiting to happen. It has an airport, complete with a new terminal and 9,000-foot runway, which handles only four flights a week. It has a 2,016-bed prison that houses only 21 inmates. There's also an empty hospital as well as empty schools and libraries.
"You have industrial sites," Ouzounian says. "Unlike most cities where they don't want you blowing things up, around here they'd be thrilled to death if somebody came here and blew up some of this stuff up!"
Ouzounian also is working with one of the trustees of the film commission to take one of the many deserted warehouses and turn it into a soundstage. He points out that, while there may be no film infrastructure in the town, good crews can be found in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, both within an hour's drive.
"You have, essentially, an industrial city backlot that's waiting to be used," he says.
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