Huntington Bank, Incubator Partner to Help Startups

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Whether it’s America Makes being in downtown Youngstown, the purchase of its fifth building or its ranking as the No. 1 university-affiliated incubator in the world, the Youngstown Business Incubator has had more than its share of big announcements.

“But I think our announcement today rivals all of that,” said CEO Jim Cossler at a press event Wednesday morning.

Cossler was joined at the YBI main building by Huntington Bank Regional President William Shivers to announce a “significant” gift from the bank to underwrite the incubator’s entrepreneurship program. The exact amount of the gift was not disclosed.

“It certainly rivals all of that in terms of the impact it will have on this program and our community in general,” Cossler said.

Following the announcement, Cossler and Shivers unveiled signage for the newly named “Huntington Bank Entrepreneurship Program for Information Technology.” The program will bear the name for the next four years.

“When you look at the prominence the YBI has been able to achieve, not only in the United States but worldwide, it’s incredible,” Shivers said.

“The fact that local college graduates don’t have to go out of the area. The fact that they’re creating jobs everyday and they’re permanent jobs,” are all reasons YBI was an “easy” choice, he added.

Cossler said the gift would help the incubator take the services it provides entrepreneurs to the next level. He and his team spend considerable time helping startups analyze vertical markets and determine their marketing strategies.

“It’s going to allow us to greatly improve the scope, the range, and the quality of the services of a program that’s already very highly acclaimed,” he said.

In Cossler’s estimation, it’s “the finest program of its kind” in the Cleveland-Pittsburgh region: “There are some fine programs in the corridor, but there’s nothing that can match YBI’s acumen and services when it comes to IT and digital companies.”

During the program, Cossler gave a status update on the fifth building in the YBI campus, saying the bids are out, and he expects it to be operational sometime next year.

“I think that building’s going to be filled very rapidly,” he said.

“If you look at the success they’ve had,” said Shivers, “they look to continue to grow, and this was our way of saying we support that.”

And, with Huntington and YBI sharing similar colors – green and white — it seemed a natural fit.

“The colors match. The walls match. It was a great opportunity for us,” Shivers said.

Pictured at the press event: Huntington Bank’s Sandy Upperman, the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Jim Cossler and Colleen Kelly, and Huntington Bank’s regional president, William Shivers.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.