Economic Development

Brown Encourages Collaboration at Good Morning, Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As Youngstown faces challenges, partnerships and opportunities are what will propel the city forward, Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said Friday morning at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Good Morning, Youngstown! breakfast. 

“We have to work more together than we do apart,” Brown said. “We have to have one voice in one ask when we’re going to Washington, D.C., or Columbus.” 

He cited his talks with Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, as a model for working differently and across party lines.

“We can’t just continue doing the things we’ve done in the past because we’re used to it,” he said. “Let’s try something different. I talked about sitting down with the Republican governor and a Democrat mayor, and we can find one or two things that we can work on. That’s the difference.”

In addition to talking about working together collaboratively and to be different as a city, gun reform and food deserts were also a part of Brown’s speech. For a city like Youngstown, any gun that can be taken off the streets, there is one less victim and one less family impacted by trauma, he said. 

Gun reform will help economic growth in the city where people feel safe and secure where they live, Brown said. It will also help with food insecurity and will give a business owner or business an opportunity to stay or expand in Youngstown, he added.

The city is working on improving its schools through the adaptation of four cornerstones that affect levels of the district: governance, community partnerships, diversity and inclusion, and talent leadership. For the district to be successful, CEO Justin Jennings, the state’s academic distress commission and the school need to cooperate, said Christine Sawicki, the district’s chief academics officer. 

“Our goal is that all of them would work together to build a collaborative relationship rather than working in isolation or against one another,” she said. 

Likewise, work cannot be done alone and everyone at Youngstown City Schools is “blessed” to have many community partners who care about the scholars and the school community, Sawicki said. 

“Our goal is to continue to build strong, positive relationships to enhance opportunities for our scholars,” she said. 

The district is also emphasizing data and accountability to ensure staff members are working hard with teachers and allowing leaders to review specific data points to identify the needs of every student, Sawicki said. 

One Health Ohio, one of the breakfast’s sponsors, plans to turn the former Bottom Dollar Food grocery store on Glenwood Avenue into an integrated health center in 2020, said the organization’s chief medical officer Maria Kowal. Envisioned as a community health center, it will offer medical, dental and behavioral health services, as well as a dietetic nutritional services program and a community kitchen. 

“We plan to do this by creating an environment that this helps to promote good health and wellness,” she said.

The Smart2 project, which is to be completed by the end of 2021, is more than a roadway project, said Jim Kinnick, executive director at Eastgate Regional Council of Governments. It’s about making the community and is an economic development driver, he said.

“It’s an exciting time for us, it’s an exciting time for the city,” Kinnick said. “We are not like we are used to.” 

The project calls for the implementation of a transit hub connecting St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, Youngstown State University and downtown Youngstown, as well as autonomous buses, improved pedestrian and bicyclist safety and better lighting. From the beginning, Eastgate and its partners on the project have urged community cooperation to accomplish the $10.8 million project.

“Everyone has their own plans and what I’d like to focus on is making sure that we put all those plans in action together and make one recipe for success,” Brown added. 

Also speaking at the event was Jeff Leo Herrmann, CEO of The Business Journal, who provided an update on the publication’s future as a locally owned and produced newspaper.

With a brain drain problem in Youngstown, The Business Journal is launching a 15-month Brain Gain program on Oct. 1 to bring the younger generation to Youngstown and to keep them here, Herrmann said. 

“For the next 15 months, we are committed to delivering news strategies and resources focused on the brain gain in our region,” he said. “We are here using our platform advocating for this community to build a culture of entrepreneurship and to promote workforce development. Through that, we will thrive.” 

Pictured: Mayor Jamael Tito Brown was among the featured speakers at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s Good Morning, Youngstown! breakfast Friday morning.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.