Economic Development

EGCC Envisions Greenspace Between Downtown Buildings

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Creating a greenspace on Boardman Street between Eastern Gateway Community College’s two buildings is part of Arthur Daly’s long-term vision for the growing downtown campus. 

Daly, Eastern Gateway’s Youngstown campus vice president, shared the concept with members of the Western Reserve Port Authority’s board of directors Wednesday. The port authority board held its regular monthly meeting in Eastern Gateway’s new classroom space in the former Harshman Building, 101 E. Boardman St. The community college uses the first floor as space for nursing classes and labs.

“We need more health workforce programs here at Eastern Gateway,” Daly said. The downtown campus has 1,000 students. 

Discussions between the port authority and Easter Gateway began about two years ago, he said, driven in part by Eastern Gateway’s need to expand.

 “Economic development takes on many flavors. It’s not just about creating jobs. It’s not just about real estate values,” said Anthony Trevena, director of the port authority’s Northeast Ohio Development and Finance Authority. “Workforce development is critical.” 

The port authority purchased the building from NYO Property Group for $350,000 and has spent $650,000 to renovate the first floor and basement level for Eastern Gateway, said Randy Partika, development engineer for the port authority. The port authority financed $675,000 through Cortland Bank of the project and received a $100,000 state grant. 

Medical assisting, state-tested nursing assistant and some computer courses are already begin offered in the building. Other nursing programs and a phlebotomy class will be offered in the fall. Some classes for Eastern Gateway’s Aspire program – which helps individuals who don’t have their General Education Diploma, commonly referred to as GED –will also be offered there.  

Daly said he would like to see the stretch of East Boardman Street between EGCC’s main downtown building – the newly dedicated Humphries Hall –and the Harshman Building closed off and greenspace installed to create a “cultural district” at that end of downtown. Discussions are underway with the city, he reported.   

“Hopefully, maybe in the next three to five years, we’ll be able to block off one of the roads here – we’re hoping Boardman Street – maybe long term, creating that green space where we can have trees and grass and really create the college feel,” Daly said. “We think one of the reasons that a lot of students want to come to a college setting is because of the college feel.” 

This summer, Mocha House will move into space in Humphries Hall, contributing another necessary element to establishing a campus environment for students.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown noted the successes other campuses have had by creating greenspace environments, though he acknowledged potential safety concerns with closing off East Boardman. 

“He has a vision,” Brown said. “It’s in his vision for the future, but I can see it happening.” 

In addition, Daly said he would like to secure funding to connect the downtown campus with Choffin Career and Technical Center up the hill using lighting and landscaping. Eastern Gateway, Choffin and Youngstown State University compose “an ecosystem” of educational institutions “all in a triangle,” he said. 

“A lot of our students matriculate up to YSU, but the nice thing is when YSU finds students need remediation, they send them down to us,” Daly said. “It is a two-way street.”  

Eastern Gateway has also signed a letter of intent for the building’s second floor, which it plans to relocate the Youngstown campus’ administrative offices. Cortland Bank will provide financing for that renovation work, Trevena said. 

Four classrooms are on the building’s main floor, while the basement level serves as the headquarters for the campus’ athletic department. The safe for the jewelry store that had been located in the building was converted to a sitting room for students. 

Partika acknowledged the renovation presented some challenges, as when contractors discovered a block wall behind a plaster wall they didn’t expect, causing some mechanicals to be rerouted. 

“Honestly, I went into this project thinking it would be five times worse,” he said. 

“The reason we get involved with projects like this is to help bring a building back to life and to create jobs and activity in the community,” said John Moliterno, executive director of the port authority. 

Helping Eastern Gateway, which had outgrown its existing building, to expand, is good not just for downtown Youngstown, but the Mahoning Valley as a whole. 

The 1,000 students who already attend classes at the Youngstown Campus is “a big deal,” he added. The Mocha House isn’t opening in Humphries Hall just because the space is available but because of the activity already downtown and what Eastern Gateway is going to generate. 

“And Eastern Gateway is still growing,” Moliterno continued. “They’re not even remotely close to being done in terms of their growth.” 

He also forecast “several interesting projects” involving cooperation between the port authority and Youngstown that will benefit the city as well as the greater Mahoning Valley. 

“The transformation is happening and you are an active part of that,” Brown said. 

Pictured: Western Reserve Port Authority Executive Director Larry Moliterno, Eastern Gateway Community College Youngstown campus vice president Arthur Daly and WRPA board chairman Marty Loney at the agency’s monthly meeting Wednesday.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.