BBB Encourages Small-Business Support, Awards Grants at Annual Meeting

YOUNGSTOWN – Carol Potter, president of the Better Business Bureau of Mahoning Valley, on Thursday stressed the importance of being honest and dependable during the pandemic.

“When a company steps up during a crisis, it builds loyalty and trust,” Potter said in her address at the virtual meeting. “You can trust [the BBB] to advise you in guiding customers through this new reality,” she told BBB members.

Consumers can do their part to support struggling local businesses, Potter continued, by being patient, thanking them for their services, tipping generously, exercising social distancing and taking advantage of curbside pickup services.

Potter also warned of the current wave of consumer scams.

“When a disaster strikes, scammers are quick to devise new ways to take your money and information,” she said. ‘COVID has provided scammers with opportunities to lure consumers to give their personal information.”

There is an informational section on COVID-related scams at the bureau’s website, BBB.org.

A slate of officers and new directors were also approved at the virtual meeting.

Jennifer Johnson of Aqua Ohio was elected chairwoman;  and Jeffrey Ryznar of 898 Marketing, secretary. New directors are Kevin Helmick of Farmers Bank; Thomas Duncan of Duncan Bath and Kitchen; and Sue Stricklin of Simon Roofing.

The bureau was unable to host its annual Torch Awards this summer because of the pandemic, but it did name the scholarship winners.

High school students receiving the $1,000 scholarships were Joshua Comport, Canfield; Albin Dearing, Poland; Matthew Miller, Lakeview; Dana Spagnoletta, Niles; and Ashley Thompson, Canfield.

Applicants were judged, in part, by essays they wrote. “They were really well done,” said Becky Wall, outgoing chairman. “We weren’t sure what we were going to get in light of the pandemic but we were really pleased.”

Applications for the 2021 round of scholarships will become available in January on the BBB website.

Wall also announced that the bureau has awarded $2,000 grants to five area social service organizations “who worked harder than we thought possible to help the people hit the hardest by the pandemic” to ensure they can continue their work.

Receiving the special community grants were The Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley, Second Harvest Food Bank, United Way of Trumbull County, United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, and United Way of Northern Columbiana County.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.