YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of Youngstown is still in need of a city events coordinator and some feel that filling the position will improve businesses and more.
The position of the downtown events and citywide special projects coordinator has been vacant for more than two years.
“That person and that role is a vital champion for small businesses. Its role is defined as marketing and promotion, and getting the word out and coordinating some of the most impactful things that draw people to our community,” said Derrick McDowell.
McDowell is the founder of the Youngstown Flea, which brings thousands of people downtown each month. He applied for the position and has had several interviews. However, after sending emails, letters and asking for updates in person, he says he’s gotten no response on where the hiring process currently stands.
“This position has sat vacant for two years and four months, that is astronomical. Imagine any other business where there’s been no one to champion conversation and communication and coordination for two years and four months,” he said.
The previous event coordinator was voted out by the city council in early 2020. At least 10 people have applied for the position since it became open.
A hiring committee was designed to conduct the interviews with the applicants, and they would narrow down the job pool. The narrowed-down list was sent to the mayor, who has the final pick, within the last few weeks.
“That position is so important to the city, that it’s something that should have been filled, directly after the last person was outed,” said First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver.
McDowell says he understands that many events were canceled due to COVID, but he feels this position could have benefited city residents even during the pandemic.
“Things like vaccination clinics and helping to get the word out…We’re doing things in the community like drive-thru baby showers, the health department’s working in a number of ways, our parks departments are trying to host events out in public spaces,” he said.
During Monday’s city council meeting, Councilman Oliver asked the Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown about the position and the status of it being filled.
“All the questions you raised are great questions, councilman, those are questions you could have asked me prior to this. I would have had a better answer for you, I’ll get back to you on those questions,” Mayor Brown said responding to Oliver at the meeting.
Oliver says he feels like it’s difficult to communicate and get answers.
“I asked questions that were relevant, I asked questions that made sense, they were easy to understand, and I just feel like it should have had an easy response,” Oliver said.
Several businesses have moved out of downtown, leaving Youngstown altogether, citing slow traffic as the main reason. McDowell believes filling the position would help that.
“We don’t see how directly intertwined all of this is, but we have to begin to see that,” he said.
We reached out to the mayor, who was not available for an interview but did say that the position will be filled soon and that they will choose the best candidate who meets all the requirements for the job description.