LORDSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It was late June when we first reported about contractors and union leaders being concerned about the lack of construction work going to local people at the TJX HomeGoods warehouse site in Lordstown. Two-and-a-half months later, the president of the Builders Association is still concerned.
At Lordstown’s soon-to-be TJX HomeGoods warehouse Friday, trails of dust could be seen from the construction equipment.
No buildings are going up yet but a lot of earth has been moved and the scale of the project can now be clearly seen. It’s big.
Along with running his Austintown-based roofing, siding and gutter company, Sam Boak is also president of the Builders Association.
He said the construction work being given to local companies at the TJX HomeGoods site is a small amount just to keep them happy. He feels they’re just throwing them a bone.
“If it was 50/50, I would be alright with that,” Boak said.
He said the general contractor is from Texas.
Boak has heard a Cleveland company is getting all of the concrete work — and he considers Cleveland local — but that’s it.
“I think part of the heating and air conditioning is being done locally for, like, the office area but what about the rest of the facility?” he said. “They want to break it down and give a little bit here so, like, we’ll shut up, I guess. And in the Youngstown area, the Mahoning Valley, we don’t shut up.”
In June, union leaders were critical of the use of out-of-state workers at the TJX project. When we contacted two of them Friday, both said they had no comment.
“These out-of-town ones, they come and they go and they don’t care,” Boak said.
He said local contractors care more.
“Because our families, our friends are working out there, our neighbors. We don’t want them to come back and say, ‘Your roof is leaking’ or, ‘Your concrete’s cracking’ or something like that. We look at it differently.”
Boak said from now on, when tax abatements are given out, a commitment by companies to use local people should be included in the deal.
“By a professional. Not by a city council because they don’t know what to really do. I’m not trying to take anything away from them, but a professional that can represent all of us would probably be the best way of doing it.”
In the case of the TJX project, there was a tax abatement.
When we first reported on this story in June, we were told the general contractor was from Georgia. On Friday, Boak said it was from Texas.
A TJX spokesperson told us, “We wouldn’t have anything to add to your story.”