The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published June 30, 1997


Endeavors by Winner bring jobs to the area

By Jennifer Hall
Herald Staff Writer

After a period of buying a variety of buildings and properties throughout Mercer County, Sharon businessman James E. Winner Jr. has many projects in the works with a variety of completion dates.

From the Veterans' Walkway next to The Winner to the Walk of Fame planned to accompany the Halls of Fame, Winner sees himself as a visionary.

``I typically think two, three, four years ahead,'' Winner said. ``The short term escapes me a little, but it's the visions for the future that I map out.''

A future project that Winner is looking at is a charter school, which is what he planned if he had been the winning bidder for Sacred Heart School in Sharon.

He served on Team Pa. headed by Gov. Tom Ridge that looked at the overall economic development of the state and discussed education.

``Where education today is lacking is in preparing people for the industrial jobs, where they are now required to be computer savvy because all of the mills are high-tech,'' Winner said, adding that would be his goal with a charter school.

Winner owns almost 30 properties throughout the Shenango Valley, with the biggest concentration of those being in Sharon. He has big plans for all of the buildings but said those plans take time.

Eventually he will buy land from the city of Sharon after it demolishes the building that houses Ideal Bakery, Szabo's Jewelry and Reliable Insurance. Winner plans to build a three-story office in the spot to complement The Winner.

While properties such as Tara in Clark are just right the way they are, Winner said his other projects should be on the fast track to completion. But he did say many of the properties he purchased were in worse shape than he and construction people first expected.

The chairman of Sharon-based Winner International, the holding company for a number of Winner enterprises, originally purchased The Winner, where Winner International and his off-price clothing store are located, because he had hopes for improving the downtown.

Winner said he has bought businesses such as Ultimate Technologies Inc. to keep the job base in the Shenango Valley. He is expanding what is now called Winner Steel.

``I know I'm providing employment opportunities, and that's one of the qualities of life.''

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