On Monday, January 14th, we decided to trust the weather reports that indicated that there would be no serious snow and drive over to Youngstown to attend the monthly City Club of the Mahoning Valley “Views and Brews” that took place at Suzie’s Dogs and Drafts on North Phelps Street. Before the program got started, we visited with Mr. Chris Tennant who heads Thrive Mahoning Valley, a non-profit devoted to improving accessibility to local services. We complimented Mr. Tennant on the work that both he and his organization have done to assist people from Puerto Rico who have resettled locally, such as the Rios family.
We also spoke to a nice man named Kyle who is very excited about the possibilities for Blockchain in the local region. We told him to be sure to come to a City Club of Cleveland discussion titled Building Blockland: What’s Next? set to take place on January 29th.
The description for this evening’s program read, in part, that “on December 6, 2018, Congressman Tim Ryan and Senator Sherrod Brown announced that Youngstown will be the recipient of a $10.8 million Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) federal grant for the U.S. Department of Transportation to make improvements to the Central Business District. The funds will be used for several projects including infrastructure upgrades, new pedestrian, bus, and bicycle facilities, autonomous shuttles, and new streetscaping to connect some of Youngstown’s major anchor institutions-and is estimated to generate more than $250 million in economic development within 10 years.”
Thus a discussion was conducted in which the moderator was Ms. Carmella M. Williams, Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Youngstown Business Incubator and the panelists were Mr. James G. Kinnick, PE, who is the Executive Director of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments; Mr. Charles A. Nelson, Management Consultant of the Western Transit Authority; and Councilperson Julius T. Oliver of the First Ward of Youngstown.
Each of the panelists spoke of their role in the project and their high hopes for it to enhance Youngstown. Obtaining this federal grant took a lot of work and it was denied twice before it was finally approved. The only serious questions seemed to concern the need for the local citizenry to become more involved in the endeavor and not be hesitant about asking questions and making suggestions.
We ourselves talked to Mr. Nelson for a moment and he said that he believed the project had a lot of potential to help international students who attend YSU but are in need of transportation to get to their classes. Others expressed their point of view that as the region’s economic standing is improved, more people (including those foreign-born) will choose to settle locally.
Perhaps the definite word was given by a person who just moved back to Youngstown after working in the United Kingdom for over 20 years. He said that the synergy created by this project was amazing and really believed it had the potential to help transform the Youngstown area for the better.