Wean Foundation Essential in YBI Expansion

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A $630,000 program arranged by the Raymond John Wean Foundation assisted the Youngstown Business Incubator’s expansion.

Foundation officials were on hand Thursday for the official announcement of YBI’s acquisition of the former Vindicator building downtown. During the press event, Barb Ewing, YBI chief operating officer, said without Wean’s participation, the $6 million acquisition and remodeling project would not have been brought to fruition.

Using a revolving loan fund at Village Capital Corp. in Cleveland, the program-related investment, or PRI, is structured in the form of a five-year loan. PRIs are fixed-term loans made by foundations from their endowments to support charitable activities that strategically align with the foundation’s mission. Since 2014, the Wean Foundation’s board has used PRIs to complement its regular grant-making activities.

“The Wean Foundation has embraced the PRI as a tool to advance its vision of creating a healthy, vibrant and economically stable Mahoning Valley,” said Gordon Wean, chairman of the Wean Foundation. The first loan made through the Wean Foundation loan fund at Village Capital was to the Tech Belt Energy Innovation Center project for renovation of their Courthouse Square building in Warren.

“The loan we received bridged the gap between our need for and receipt of funding from the state of Ohio,” said David Nestic, chief executive of regional operations at TBEIC.

“That bridge loan, in excess of $900,000, will be repaid later this year. Without the Wean Foundation, our project may not have come together,” Nestic added. “Those funds helped ease our financing worries.”

“PRIs allow us to put foundation dollars to work in ways we can’t do through grants alone,” Wean said. “While our grant priority areas are intentionally focused to help us achieve greater impact, the PRI revolving loan program allows us to expand our support to worthy organizations and projects in the Valley.”

The loan to the incubator will support its ability to bring more companies to scale, said Barbara Ewing, YBI’s chief operating officer. “They graduate out of the program and into permanent space on our campus,” she said. The incubator buildings on the YBI campus are fully occupied and the PRI funds will provide YBI with the much-needed funding capacity to purchase its fifth building.

“This project would not have happened without this partnership,” Ewing remarked.

“The Wean Foundation is proud to be a part of this important project by providing loan funds to help this expansion move forward,” Wean said. “The foundation board and staff applaud the success of the Youngstown Business Incubator in embarking on the adaptive reuse of this building in downtown Youngstown.”

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Pictured: The former newspaper building that will become the fifth building operated by the Youngstown Business Incubator.

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