YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Congressman Bill Johnson, R- 6th District, and executives with the state’s Jobs Ohio program received an earful Tuesday concerning the potential for economic development in the region.

A couple of dozen businesses, government and community leaders gathered to discuss the area’s economic possibilities for growth and job creation, but they also talked about the region’s population losses since the late 70s when the steel mills closed and the challenges that creates for development.

“In the late 1700s, everybody wanted to get to Ohio. That was on everybody’s lips, the East Coast. We want that again for the same reason because this is the land of opportunity,” Johnson said.

Organizers of the event say the region needs to market itself internally to convince people they don’t need to leave the area to be successful as well as externally so those outside the region can learn what the area has to offer.