Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Attorney General to Open Office In Youngstown’s 20 Federal Place

From the Business Journal

By George Nelson
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The irony wasn’t lost on Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.

The first Trumbull County resident elected to statewide office was holding a news conference on the ground floor of 20 Federal Place – the building formerly named for Phar-Mor Inc., the drugstore chain whose bankruptcy 15 years ago followed what was then the largest corporate fraud in history. A space that came to symbolize corporate crime locally would soon house more than three dozen law enforcement officers, Dann announced.

The former state senator from Liberty said that he would move the state Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation’s 22-person staff for Boardman to the downtown building and add 16.

“Mickey Monus’ old offices, ironically,” remarked Jeffery L. Chagnot, city economic development director, referring to Phar-Mor’s founder.

“We’re trying to build a new future here,” Dann said, “and what better place to start than here?”

In addition to the BCI staff, the third-floor space at 20 Federal will house members of Dann’s newly formed predatory-lending task force, his office’s consumer protection staff and other positions being transferred from Columbus. The 38 positions will bring an additional $1.8 million in annual payroll to the city, he said.

The attorney general had invited Youngstown and Warren officials to submit proposals, with a preference for downtown sites, and the state Department of Administrative Services reviewed them. Dann wanted sites convenient to highways for law enforcement agencies transporting evidence to BCI and close to courthouses.

Price and proximity drove the decision in Youngstown’s favor. The state will pay $7,488 per month, including utilities, for 10,000 square feet, with another 12,000-square-feet available for expansion. The 22 BCI employees were “overstuffed” in the 4,000-square-foot offices in Boardman, and rent was scheduled to rise to $10 per foot, Dann said. In Columbus, the cheapest space would have been $15 per foot, he noted.

The attorney general admitted to being “a little heartbroken” that a site in Warren was not selected – his former district includes Trumbull County ¬ and he acknowledged the efforts of Warren Mayor Michael O’Brien and the Trumbull County commissioners.

“In the end, Youngstown was the best fit,” Dann said. However, he he is also looking for additional chances to move jobs to the region; and Warren could benefit later.

The new state lease will bring occupancy at 20 Federal to nearly 70%, Chagnot reported. The offices are to move downtown by July 1.

In his remarks, Mayor Jay Williams offered that Dann had quickly debunked two myths – one about the lofty promises politicians make when campaigning yet fail to keep once elected, the other about attorneys being talkers, not doers.

Dann said he is working to debunk one more myth – that the Mahoning Valley does not have a bright and vibrant future, a perception he is trying to change around the state and the country.

“This is a community on the rebound,” he declared. “We’re going to take advantage of that on behalf of the taxpayers of the state of Ohio.”

Copyright 2007 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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