Mayor Brown Urges Small Businesses to Sign onto YO! App

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Youngstown officials are targeting a July 1 launch date for a new mobile app to support small businesses in the city.

The city is seeking submissions through June 30 from Youngstown businesses interested in participating in the new YO! app, which was developed by Colu Technologies in New York.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown announced the upcoming launch of the app and invited city small businesses to participate in it during a news conference Wednesday morning at Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children ‘s Center for Science & Technology.

“We continually say we’re open for business in Youngstown, but we want people to know that you’re open for business as well,” Brown said. He said he spoke with Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, who has a similar program.

Participating businesses will be listed on the app and will be able to promote their products and services, including specials. Patrons of registered vendors will earn “City Bites” that can be applied to purchases at redeeming businesses. App users will earn one City Bite for each dollar spent.

Through June 30, Youngstown businesses are being invited to register on the city‘s website to appear on the app’s listing, said T. Sharon Woodberry, economic development director. Businesses that register by the deadline will be featured when the app launches, while those registering after that date will be added following a “holding period.”

There is no charge to businesses to register or for people to download the app, which will be available at the App Store and similar platforms for smart devices.

Colleen Ruby, director of visitor services at Oh Wow, said the center joined the partnership because it is “an economic engine” for downtown. She encouraged other city businesses to participate.

“We have visitors coming from all over the area into the downtown and we want to let them know as well as visitors who may have never come to the Youngstown area what we’re doing as well as what our neighbors and other businesses in the area are doing,” she said.

So far, about 50 businesses have registered. In addition to Oh Wow, participating businesses include The Federal, Penguin City Brewing Co. and Perfette Sausage.

Brown emphasized the importance of the app as a tool for city businesses to rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic, and for businesses to participate in the program.

“I’ve said time and again I don’t just want to survive. I want to thrive out of this pandemic,” he said.

Pictured at top: On-hand for the YO! app press event were Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, T. Sharon Woodberry, the city’s director of economic development, and Colleen Ruby, director of visitor services for Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.