YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Candidates for Youngstown mayor laid out their economic plans for the city Tuesday during the Government Affairs Council Mayoral Forum hosted by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
Job growth and expansion are the goals of businesses in Youngstown and at the center of the forum. The timing of the event falls on the 40th anniversary of Black Monday – the end of major steel manufacturing and its domination of the Youngstown economy.
Barb Ewing, with the Youngstown Business Incubator, said the city has taken lessons learned from that era to develop new opportunities.
“If there is one lesson that I think we should learn from Black Monday, it’s that you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. We have to continue to diversify our economy, bring new technology types of businesses in, also support our existing business,” Ewing said.
Since Black Monday, the landscape of job growth in Youngstown has shifted tremendously – steel forging has been replaced by high-tech and service industries, with a push to put Youngstown at the center of new technologies with programs such as the partnership with the downtown area and Youngstown State University.
The 90-minute forum Tuesday focused strictly on those programs and business development and retention in the city of Youngstown – with an emphasis on projects that have boosted the city’s job growth.
All four candidates had the opportunity to talk about what they would do to attract new business to the city and keep current ones from leaving. They also talked about getting students ready for the job market.
“One of them, I believe, is education. Not everyone is going to college, but everyone can have a skill,” said candidate Janet Tarpley. We have to put our young people into skilled trades.”
“There are so many alumni from YSU that would love to come back home, and we need to make sure we’re talking to them,” said candidate Jamael “Tito” Brown. “Listen, come back home. If we can’t get them to Youngstown than Northeast Ohio.”
Brown and Tarpley were also joined by candidates Sean McKinney and Cecil Monroe.
Business leaders say the climate of job growth is excellent in Youngstown and expects it to continue.
“Continuing with the progress that Youngstown has made, especially downtown there has been a lot of progress the last fifteen years. A lot of job growth, a lot of residential growth,” said Guy Coviello, vice president of government affairs for the Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Manufacturing is still a very viable industry in Youngstown. Joseph Caruso with Compass Family Services is at the forefront workforce development. His agency helps match workers with jobs.
“Working with the trades in manufacturing there are so many really neat, technically skilled jobs that are available in manufacturing. It is kind of like a rebirth of the Valley,” Caruso said.
Caruso, Ewing and Coviello believe it is crucial for businesses to interact with other facets of the community, such as everyday citizens and politicians. They say job growth only happens when the entire community is involved.