YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A $475,000 state grant will allow the Youngstown Business incubator to fund the final phase of renovations to Tech Block Building No. 5.
Gov. Mike DeWine announced the funds from JobsOhio’s Vibrant Community Program during a media event Sept. 13 at the 29 Vindicator Square building, which formerly housed The Vindicator Printing Co. YBI purchased the building in 2015 and opened the partially renovated space in December 2017.
In June 2021, YBI received $1.9 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to help pay for renovations to the remaining 19,000 square feet of leasable space.
The state grant program “was designed specifically to close the financing gap for transformation development projects like this and we do think this is a transformational project,” DeWine said. The building houses 10 tenants. The additional space will accommodate up to five more to continue the building’s “positive momentum,” he said.
During his remarks, the governor alluded to the groundbreaking Sept. 9 for Intel’s $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant in Licking County.
DeWine recalled telling the state’s development team, when Ohio was competing with 39 sites nationwide for the project, that succeeding would be important for the direct and indirect jobs the project would bring to Ohio.
“It will send a signal to businesses of all kinds across this country that there’s something special going on in Ohio,” he said. “And there is something special going on in Ohio. There is something special going on in the Mahoning Valley.”
The governor was among several state and local leaders who offered remarks at the event.
“What you’re witnessing is revitalization and collaboration at its finest,” said J.P. Nauseef, CEO of JobsOhio, the state’s private nonprofit economic development corporation.
Among the beneficiaries of the renovation will be JuggerBot 3D, a manufacturer of industrial-grade 3D printing equipment, which now occupies a 3,600-square-foot space in the building.
Last year, JuggerBot received a $25,000 grant from JobsOhio to support its growth
“We’re excited for these next steps,” said Zac DiVencenzo, JuggerBot co-founder.
The company, which originally occupied a 300-square-foot office in one YBI building and now has 3,600 square-feet in TBB5, will move to a 9,000-square-foot space once the renovation is complete.
“We knew that we wanted to design and innovate and manufacture like our parents and grandparents did before us. We knew that we wanted to stay in Youngstown. We wanted to contribute to this community and be part of that ecosystem,” DiVencenzo said.
YBI initially rejected JuggerBot as a tenant when the partners pitched the incubator after they graduated from college in 2014. At the time, DiVencenzo acknowledged, YBI didn’t have the space or resources to accommodate the startup.
According to Barb Ewing, incubator CEO, the JuggerBot founders provided YBI with the impetus for developing Tech Block Building 5.
“They were soldiering in our 100-year-old wooden building across the street and we kept smelling smoke rolling out of it,” she recalled. “We knew that sooner or later they were going to burn the place down.”
Ewing said she hopes to have the new space ready for tenants by the first of the year, a timetable that “might be a little aggressive.”
But the space will be ready by sometime during the first quarter of 2023 “for sure,” she said.
The space to be renovated already has undergone demolition. Walls need to be constructed and HVAC systems and electrical lines need to be installed.
Discussions are underway with potential tenants, including a company from Great Britain.
“But we’d also like to continue to generate our own homegrown companies,” Ewing said.
From left: Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and Gov. Mike DeWine.