Youngstown Business Incubator

Inc. Honors YBI Youth Entrepreneurship as ‘Best in Business’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The Inc. 2021 Best in Business list included the Youngstown Business Incubator in the Youth Entrepreneurship category.

Published in the Winter issue of Inc. Magazine, the list honors small- and medium-sized companies that have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact in their communities, industries, environment or society as a whole, according to a release.

In March 2021, YBI’s Youth Entrepreneurship program launched its 15-week The LaunchPad cohort to establish fundamentals of student entrepreneurship and provide young city residents with the education and resources needed to start a business.

“Youth entrepreneurship has the ability to change our community. This program started with a small idea that can have a large impact,” Tanisha Wheeler, YBI director of women and youth entrepreneurship, said in the release. “This acknowledgement is timely as we continue to build the program to make an even greater impact on our community.

“I’m a firm believer that it truly takes a village to not only raise a child, but to support a child’s dreams,” Wheeler said. “I’m glad that the YBI can help to support our young people in the Valley.”

Inc. received 2,700 entries for the list and selected 196, according to the release. Honorees were based on achievements over the past year and how the company or organization made a positive difference in the world. Click HERE for the full list.

“What began for us during the pandemic as an effort to showcase companies that were helping the community has grown into a recognition of social, environmental and economic impact,” said Scott Omelianuk, Inc. editor-in-chief. “The companies on this year’s list are changemakers with heart – and they’re pouring the best of their business into the people and communities around them.”

During the LaunchPad cohort, students received hands-on learning experience in general entrepreneurship, building a business model, and building their confidence, leadership, teamwork and communications skills, according to the release. Of the 25 students who participated, 14 have registered their business with the Secretary of State’s office, got their Employer Identification Numbers and learned about financial literacy and the cost of doing business.

Students are now working with a local marketing firm for websites, logo design and preparing branded materials.

In an effort to help local young entrepreneurs overcome barriers and gain positive life experiences, the YBI is developing The Xperience program to explore using virtual reality to provide such experiences and replicate outcomes for disadvantaged students, according to the release.

“Exposure breeds expansion and The Xperience will give our students that exposure,” said Stephanie Gilchrest, director of the Minority Business Assistance Center. “The Xperience will transport students outside of their four walls and expose them to different industries, careers and other nations, eliminating the barriers of mobility and financial resources.”

Experiences such as site visits, job-shadowing, mentoring, apprenticeships and worker-student discussions can seem unattainable to young people without an introduction, Gilchrist said, but they can help shape “his/her career arc in a positive direction.” Properly produced virtual reality programming can have similar effect, the release states.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.