Growth Report 2021 Tells Stories of Transformation

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The first day of February brings the publication of The Business Journal’s 35th annual Growth Report, an achievement for which any acclaim goes to the nearly 300 businesses and organizations that allowed us to tell their stories.

Growth Report 2021 begins with “Together in Transformation,” the theme of our cover story and a belief echoed by those who participated in this publication.

We were inspired, as you will be, by their resilience, determination and ingenuity. In a year like no other, many businesses and organizations not only found ways to thrive in 2020, they made it their purpose to help their neighbors in dire need – at the same time innovating products, services and new business practices in this global time of need.

Aim Transportation Solutions, for example, more than did its part to keep the supply chain moving. Last year, even as the company’s revenues fell, Aim acquired one of its competitors and purchased more than 700 trucks as it offered relief in the form of interest-free deferred payments to its hard-hit customers.

Akron Children’s Hospital worked with partner hospitals in the region to ensure access to health care, even with an influx of COVID-19 patients. That meant evolving the hospital’s staffing and care guidelines to include adult patients if necessary.

“We trained and credentialed 244 pediatric providers to care for adult patients, if that should become necessary,” says its chief medical officer, Dr. Robert McGregor. “While this was a significant undertaking by our medical staff, it has prepared us to help partner hospitals handle any overcapacity issues that could arise.”

And where there was need, opportunities to help and innovate, entrepreneurs jumped in. Here’s an example that made us smile: Michael Ervin founded Bubble Tech USA so that hard-hit bars and restaurants could get the most profit and best-tasting beer out of their tap systems. Now that’s ingenuity!

Carney Plastics diverted its fabricating shop to make clear acrylic boxes that allowed doctors to incubate a patient while protecting themselves from the virus. The company also began to make the shields and guards that today are ubiquitous in offices, stores, schools and other public places.
Carney also supplied acrylic sheeting to pop-up fabricators.

“Many people in otherwise unrelated businesses that were immediately hurt by the pandemic saw an opportunity in buying plastic and supplying shields for local businesses,” says Sean Carney, company president. “In most cases, we were doing the cutting, routing and or drilling of the material and they would do the installations.”

Every January, The Business Journal issues an open invitation for companies and organizations to look back at the previous year and to look ahead. This year, we received an unprecedented response. Readers wanted to tell their stories. Some companies that we hear from every year chose to stay silent, the burden of the pandemic perhaps private information they did not want to make public. Some closed permanently in 2020 and others are on the edge of collapsing.

No one dare be blind to the economic and pandemic-related struggles and challenges that await us this year or the despair many felt last year and continue to feel.

2020 was a year like none before and those who submitted stories are rightfully proud of their resilience and community involvement.

Growth Report 2021 is recognition that dark days don’t last forever. May we all be inspired.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.