WARREN – Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber leaders insist each of the two new life-sized, 3-D printed bobbleheads they commissioned represents more than just another political face.
The chamber is using the bobbleheads of 2016 presidential candidate frontrunners Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as part of its “Victory for the Valley” project to promote the Warren-Youngstown area as an advanced manufacturing research and business hub “in the center of the nation’s TechBelt stretching from Cleveland to Pittsburgh,” said Guy Coviello, the chamber’s vice president of government affairs.
“While bobbleheads are fun and entertaining, ours also carry a serious message,” Coviello said. “The Valley is the heart of the TechBelt, and these bobbleheads symbolize the revolutionary technology that will re-industrialize the country.”
Trump’s nodder will appear at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland July 18 to 21 and, along with Clinton’s, at the presidential debate in Dayton in September.
Coviello said Trump’s bobblehead will be on display “at one of the best locations in downtown Cleveland during the convention” where Chamber leaders can deliver the message about “this revolutionary technology being developed in the heart of the TechBelt.”
But that’s not all. Chamber leaders are counting on the wobblers to spark other conversations and serve as a segue to discussions about the Valley’s assets as they pursue their threefold goal to land major economic development projects over the next five years; garner international attention for local advances in 3-D printing, formally known as additive manufacturing; and change public policy in areas such as trade enforcement and military affairs to improve the economic climate in the Valley.
The chamber has taken several steps to ensure Trumbull and Mahoning counties benefit from the GOP event that is expected to draw some 50,000 people, including 15,000 media representatives. Coviello said the chamber is prepared to use the convention as a tool to showcase the Valley.
For example, the chamber is hosting a site selector familiarization tour – a first in the Valley – during which about a dozen site selectors, whose clients make large economic investments that result in substantial job creation, will spend time in Trumbull and Mahoning counties discovering why this area is well positioned for business attraction, Covelli explained.
The chamber also plans to take 150 business leaders to convention receptions, including one that the chamber is hosting, to make the Valley’s presence known to dignitaries in the political arenas of Columbus and Washington and business leaders from around the world,” Coviello noted.
The chamber will operate some activities out of the historic Calfee Building in downtown Cleveland, just a few blocks away from the convention site at Quicken Loans Arena.
Coviello said efforts during the convention will directly impact Valley businesses. The chamber is acting as a resource, sharing names of its members that offer various products and services, “everything from limousines and buses, to private security, to refrigeration trucks needed by caterers” and other businesses in Cleveland.
Valley businesses supporting the chamber effort include Warren-based Covelli Enterprises, Niles-based Cafaro Co. and Home Savings and Loan Co.
Joe Bell, spokesman for Cafaro, which owns the Eastwood Mall Complex, said the chamber’s efforts are an important step in “showcasing what are the many excellent locations for businesses in the Mahoning Valley.”
“We believe this area is a good place to do business and our company is willing to do what we can to let other companies know why they should be here,” Bell said.
Chamber leaders also have reached out to major media outlets around the world, attracting attention from those as close as Cleveland and Columbus and as far as The Netherlands and Japan. Some journalists will be able to stay in local hotels with the chamber assisting them with transportation to Cleveland during the convention. Officials look for the journalists to cover Valley business success stories, including the 3-D printing phenomenon that is already garnering recognition.
The chamber announced the creation of Trump and Clinton bobbleheads last month. Designed and produced by Freshmade 3D, a startup inside the Youngstown Business Incubator, with assistance from Youngstown State University and longtime manufacturer Humtown Products in Columbiana, the bobbleheads are being created by applying multiple 3D-printing techniques using sand, metal and plastic.
“The international attention we received following our initial announcement is just the beginning,” Coviello said.
After hearing about the venture, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee offered to help promote it. Late last month, representatives from the chamber and Freshmade 3D met with a crew from the Danish Broadcasting Corp. for a documentary scheduled to air Sept. 11 to 800,000 viewers. They also met with Yoko Noge Dean, named one of the 100 most influential Japanese people in the world by Newsweek Japan, and Toyoki Nakanishi of the Nikkei Asian Review, which has a circulation of three million in Asia.