YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A group from Youngstown took a trip to Cleveland on Wednesday in hopes of learning more about a project to bring back to the city.
“BoxSpot” is a business incubator in the Kinsman neighborhood of Cleveland. It is a retail site that is made out of shipping containers. The site has seven units that house small businesses in an area that community members can easily access.
Youngstown’s First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver is spearheading an initiative to bring the same type of shipping containers to Youngstown in order to create a site that promotes education, entrepreneurship and community engagement.
Oliver visited Cleveland’s BoxSpot site along with a group from Youngstown made up of officials from Choffin Career and Technical Center, the city of Youngstown, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, SMARTS Community Art School and the Economic Action Group. First News Digital Reporter Jennifer Rodriguez also attended.
Joy Johnson of the Burten Bell Carr Community Development Corporation explained how the organization transformed the shipping containers into retail business storefronts. She said they wanted to create a space right in the neighborhood so residents could take advantage of it.
Oliver is hoping to build a similar site in Youngstown that would allow high school students to be directly involved in building and maintaining the site all while developing core skills for entrepreneurship and future business goals.
His plan is for each container to cater to its own set of skills for the students to learn. Then students can graduate from the program and move on to use those skills in their future endeavors.
The site will also allow for events and community engagement. The goal is to eventually have a site on each side of town.
The project is still in its early planning stages, but Oliver is welcoming many city leaders, businesses and organizations to partner on the project to help see it through.
Oliver said he plans to use some of his American Rescue Plan funds to kickstart the project and would rely on grants for the remainder.