The Youngstown Business Incubator will expand its technology campus downtown, with renovations on its fifth building expected to take place later this year — a move that could have a positive impact on the Youngstown State University community.
YBI — a non-profit corporation that provides resources to emerging software companies — has $1.5 million set aside in the State Capital Appropriations Budget to begin renovating The Vindicator’s office building, located on the corner of Vindicator Square and West Boardman Street.
The State of Ohio’s Capital Budget can allocate funds to community projects that benefit the area. Jim Cossler, chief executive officer of YBI, said the state’s decision to set aside funds for YBI’s expansion is fiscally sound.
“We present a really good return on investment for the tax payers in the state of Ohio,” Cossler said. “The tax payers … have had that money returned to them many, many times over, due to the excellent job we’ve done over the years in job creation.”
By aiding the growth of startup software companies, Cossler said YBI serves as a “catalytic engine” that creates quality jobs in the Youngstown area — good news for YSU graduates.
“We want to make sure that we are creating high paying, high value job opportunities for our noble young people. We don’t want to see our talent migrating away from Youngstown to the Silicon Valley, to New York City, to Boston,” he said. “But, they are going to continue to migrate to those places unless we are generating … jobs that these young people are seeking upon completion of their studies.”
As YBI experiences success and continues to expand, Martin Abraham, dean of the YSU Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics College, said the university has worked to establish a relationship with YBI.
“[YBI’s growth] is a great statement about how Youngstown is expanding, and YBI is directly engaged with making that happen,” Abraham said. “YBI, of course, is the landlord for America Makes and we work extensively with the folks over there with developing technologies and supporting the growth of additive manufacturing.”
America Makes — which closely collaborates with YSU — is an additive manufacturing research center committed to bringing advanced manufacturing to the Mahoning Valley.
Though YSU has maintained a relationship with YBI for over seven years, Abraham indicated that this relationship has recently strengthened.
“It’s becoming a stronger connection, a more tangible connection,” he said.
While renovations are expected to begin this year, Cossler said an exact date for the renovation’s commencement has not been determined, and the competitive process of choosing an architectural contractor has not yet begun.
The $1.5 million from the state will not cover the entire renovation project, as these renovations are expected to cost between $5 and $6 million. Cossler said YBI will explore additional local, state and federal funding resources to obtain the rest of this money.