Youngstown Business Group Ousts Current Leader, Brings Back Former CEO

Nov 17, 2019

In an unexpected move, the board of the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce has decided to bring back its former CEO. And it won’t renew the contract of current Chamber President James Dignan, an Air Force veteran who took the helm in January, 2018.

Dignan says he has no hard feelings, and it was a matter of differing visions for the future. He had hoped to capitalize on advanced manufacturing in the region, as well as connections to military installations like the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, where he served as commander.

“And then we had the Camp Garfield piece as well – the potential for an east coast missile defense site. That was something that I was supportive and big on and thought that we need to advocate and do that aggressively in order to get the attention at the right levels.”

This photo, from 2015, shows Col. James Dignan when he served as commander of the Air Force Reserve Station in Vienna.
Credit TIM RUDELL / WKSU

Dignan plans to remain in the area to raise his family and eventually work on the ideas he feels were not well received by the chamber, such as expanding advanced manufacturing.

“Whether it’s 3D manufacturing or Internet of Things – all of those things that are coalescing here in the Valley and are important to our long-term economic development. And, of course, important for us to maintain a little bit of primacy in our manufacturing skill set.”

Among the successes of his tenure, Dignan counts the TJX-Homegoods Warehouse project as well as the building of the Lordstown and Trumbull energy centers.