Growth Report 2022

YBI Leverages Resources to Build Economy

By Megan Payich
Coordinator of Development, YBI

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In 2021, the Youngstown Business Incubator leveraged its entrepreneurial expertise and resource network to redouble its efforts to rebuild the local economy. Under CEO Barb Ewing’s leadership, YBI’s three main programs, the Minority Business Assistance Center, the Technology Entrepreneurial Services Program and the Additive Manufacturing Services program, have all expanded into new areas in order to serve the community.

A restructuring of the Minority Business Assistance Center, now under Stephanie Gilchrist’s leadership, is aimed at broadening the impact of the programs throughout the region.

Former MBAC director Vern Richberg assumed the newly created position of director of supply chain diversity in 2021 to help companies and government agencies diversify their supply chains.

The Youth Entrepreneurship Program, led by Tanisha Wheeler, was named to the “Inc. 2021 Best in Business” list. The program began in January 2021 with a 15-week cohort, The LaunchPad.

Programming included general entrepreneurship and building a business model, as well as leadership, teamwork and communications skills. Of the 25 students enrolled in the program, 14 registered their businesses with the secretary of state, got employer identification numbers, and learned about financial literacy and the cost of doing business.

While YBI is excited to create a community of young entrepreneurs, the reality is that the vast majority of youth have limited exposure to positive enrichment experiences, especially in the fields of science and technology. In response, YBI is developing The Xperience, a program that will investigate the capability of virtual reality in providing such experiences for disadvantaged students through the use of Microsoft HoloLens2 devices.

The Technology Entrepreneurial Services Program, headed by Corey Patrick, is helping businesses thrive despite ongoing challenges from the pandemic. For instance, Augment Therapy, a program that “gamifies” therapy for children, recently announced a partnership to incorporate Sesame Street’s characters into the treatment. Further, Spinwheel Solutions received an $11 million investment to advance its mission of helping students pay down student loan debts via an online rewards system.

Finally, Ursa Major, a Colorado company that uses additive manufacturing for the aerospace industry, leased the final leasable space in YBI’s additive manufacturing facility, Tech Block Building 5.