Oh, desolate Youngstown; where art thou?

It’s a Friday night; you and your posse want to go out for a fun night on the town. You’ve gotten all gussied up and trotted out to the car when you discover your car battery is dead.

You’re stuck in Youngstown.

No movies, no clubs, nothing to do after 5 p.m. but eat at Buffalo Wild Wings or go to a bar.

Been there and done that. For a town that proclaims itself as “a great university town,” Youngstown certainly has yet to bring in businesses that cater to its university’s students.

More than 1,200 students live in campus housing. Add those living nearby in apartments or houses, and you’ve got a pretty solid client base.

And yet this city remains dead — not even so much as a full grocery store or a dry cleaners. The nearest movie theater is in Boardman, which is more than 8 miles away. Even a standard entertainment venue like a bowling alley is a drive.

Why, when we live in a town that has a few thousand students bustling through it day after day, do I have to drive to a neighboring town for a decent meal or entertainment?

Come on, Youngstown. Open your nostrils and smell the decaying, unused potential.

Downtown Youngstown could be such a great college town. There are plenty of empty structures to fill, cheap overhead and a swarm of students a block away.

Look at the Youngstown Business Incubator. They’ve got little technology-based business hatchlings moving in left and right from the sound of it. If one of the hundreds of students graduating from YSU every year plucked up their entrepreneurial spirit, we could have a service/entertainment-based business market clamoring to fill up Federal Plaza.

The little convenience store and 9ine Lounge on Federal Plaza are a nice start — but they’re only a start.

With the main businesses in Youngstown being bars, not much exists for students under 21. Bring in a movie theater, a bowling alley, a real club, laser tag and a restaurant that’s open on the weekends other than Buffalo Wild Wings — or at least somewhere with fresh produce, for goodness’ sake.

Until then, those “great university town” signs are false advertisements. Right now, we’d have to move campus about 5 miles south for that to be a true statement.

It’s not that there’s nothing appealing in Youngstown. Apparently, we have a yogurt shop and a candy store. But I didn’t even know about those until this week.And they close no later than 5 p.m.

Coyoacan, with its monstrous burritos we all know and love, closes early on Friday — and doesn’t open its doors again until Monday. Mo’s has been a nice-looking empty shell since 2009. A vicious cycle is going on here.

Youngstown is dead, so students go elsewhere for entertainment and housing, so good business ideas follow the students.

Youngstown stays dead.

What we need is some courage, encouragement and a lot of advertising. There’s no reason to stray off campus right now. But college students like new things, and a five-minute walk would be more than worth it for movie theater popcorn or the sweet feeling of shooting a friend in the back with a laser.

City of Youngstown, Williamson College of Business Administration and basically anyone with a good idea, let’s get cracking. The potential is there; it just needs a good kick. 

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