SHENANGO TOWNSHIP — The prospect of a debate of gun legislation in Ohio has forced Lt. Gov. John Husted to drop from the roster of speakers at the inaugural Rising Rust Belt Summit.

Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, replaces Husted as the Monday afternoon keynote speaker. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will give the morning keynote address. The development services agency focuses on community and workforce development.

Sherris Moreira, executive director of the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce, said she understood the demands of Husted’s schedule and anticipates that Mihalik will be a worthy replacement.

“We are so thankful that we are able to get someone of this caliber,” Moreira said.

Rising Rust Belt, an unprecedented cooperative effort of the Shenango Valley, Lawrence County and Youngstown-Warren chambers of commerce, will be held Sunday and Monday, anchored at the Park Inn by Radisson in Shenango Township. 

The event begins Sunday with a mixer and tours of the now-closed Westinghouse plant and Hope Center for Arts and Technology in Sharon, followed by a mixer at the hotel. 

On Monday, Fetterman and Mihalik will deliver the keynote speeches. The event will feature four economic development breakout sessions, two in the morning and two in the afternoon.

The breakouts will include discussions on health care, education, economic legislation, site selection factors and developments in the petrochemical industry stemming from hydraulic fracture natural gas drilling and construction of the ethane cracker plant in Beaver County.

Rising Rust Belt will wrap up Monday evening with a Shark Tank-style pitch session at the LindenPointe Innovative Business Campus in Hermitage.

Moreira said the three chambers plan to make Rising Rust Belt an annual event.

James Dignan, president and CEO of the Youngstown-Warren Chamber of Commerce, said Rising Rust Belt organizers are “fortunate” to have Mihalik as a speaker.

“Director Mihalik plans to share the wide-ranging efforts she is leading in her department and across the state of Ohio,” he said.

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