City hints economic development will ‘unite east and west’ | News, Sports, Jobs

WARREN — Announcing what could become the biggest economic development project in the lifetime of current city council members, Dennis Blank, trustee of the Warren Future Fund, had few details about the project on Tuesday other than his organization has been working for over a year with a company based in Springboro.

Dillin LLC develops mixed-use community projects in towns the size of Warren and much larger, Blank told council members.

Larry B. Dillin, President and CEO of Dillin LLC, showed a video of several projects he has done in the Dayton area. Dillin has made more than $10 billion in real estate investments in projects around the world, according to his website.

City Council met in executive session Tuesday ahead of Dillin’s presentation to discuss a possible land acquisition the city would like to make to get the project off the ground.

Blank would only give hints about the details of the project.

“The project will unite the east and west sides of the city in a way that has never happened,” said White. “This plan will not displace a single resident of the community…it will use vacant land that has been piling up for decades and create a new neighborhood.

“It will open up at least two new potential growth corridors for the south and west sides of the city,” he said. “It will build on the success of existing businesses. This will attract younger, better educated and better paid skilled workers to the community.


Fund for Warren’s Future has been working on economic development projects for five years, Blank said. He used $50,000 approved by the board for his work and about $400,000 in donations from private businesses and corporations.

“Every penny we raised went to projects we were working on,” said White. “We spoke to experts.”

Blank said the plan wants downtown to be a focal point and uses the Mahoning River as the backdrop for what they want to do and the importance of public-private partnership.

The group did a thorough search for developers that would fit the city, Blank said.

“It was not easy to find” he said.

The group met with five developers and narrowed the group’s choice to Dillin LLC.

“We have already talked about what will probably be the biggest employer in this field for the prototype of this idea”, said White.

Franklin said they can’t announce a specific project because the city will be looking to buy land, so they don’t want the price to go up.

“It’s bold and transformative” said White. “The goal is to make Warren the capital of Voltage Valley.”

Councilman Ronald White, D-7th Ward, said the meeting was a good session.

“I think it’s good for the city” said White. “We all have to do our homework. He advances. We have to do what it takes to move the city forward.

Councilman Ken MacPherson, D-at Large, said the presentation was well done.

“Exciting thing for the town of Warren. I welcome Mr. Dillin and his investment in the town,” said MacPherson. “I just hope it comes to fruition and not another election stunt by the mayor to get re-elected.”

Councilor Greg Greathouse, D-3rd Ward, said: “I’m very optimistic about Warren’s future based on the information we received at this meeting.”

The Warren Future Fund was created five years ago based on discussions between Mayor Doug Franklin and Blank, who was his opponent in the 2015 election which Franklin won with nearly 55% of the vote.

Blank and Franklin reached out to Sam Covelli, president and CEO of Covelli Enterprises, and Anthony Payiavlas, president and CEO of AVI Foodsystems, to support the development effort.

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