With Help from Mentors, His Determination Succeeds
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — When Terrill Vidale began 2Deep Entertainment in 2013, he worked out of 10 square feet in his mother’s house in Youngstown. Today, his downtown office has an unobstructed view of the Covelli Centre from inside the 5,820-square-foot International Renaissance Building, since renamed the 2DE Building.
On April 1, Vidale cut the ribbon in front of his new offices at 237 E. Front St., the last step in the move from his former offices in Boardman.
During the intervening years, Vidale built his event-management and talent-booking enterprise that does business in 16 states and has become part of what he calls a “burgeoning revitalization movement” in downtown Youngstown. 2Deep employs seven part-time staff and Vidale.
“We work with corporations, universities. From inception to execution, we do the heavy lifting for an event. We’re there to put everything together and make it easy and smooth for the client,” Vidale says. “We do events from 50 people to 15,000.”
Michael McGiffin, Youngstown coordinator of events and special projects, met Vidale when he worked as adviser for Penguin Productions at Youngstown State University.
“He started his business being sort of a middle agent between universities and artists, bridging the gap from schools that had money for student programming but didn’t necessarily have the contacts to book an artist,” McGiffin says.
In one of his first shows, Vidale brought Cleveland-based rapper Machine Gun Kelly to Youngstown in 2013. Kelly’s debut studio album had just debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200.
He quickly followed that up with the 2Deep Summer Jam in downtown Youngstown, which featured Academy Award winning rapper Juicy J.
2Deep Entertainment started the Gospel Fest in downtown Youngstown in 2015. Gospel Fest has brought in artists from Tye Tribbett to Fred Hammond.
Gospel Fest begins the day after the Youngstown Wine and Jazz Festival ends and has become a staple of summer entertainment in the city, McGiffin says.
“That’s a tremendous asset to the city, that festival in general, because it scratches an itch we didn’t meet prior to,” McGiffin says. “Terrill puts out a great end result as far as concerts are concerned.”
Running successful events and word of mouth is how his business grew, Vidale says.
“That’s really how we grew our business to places like Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Illinois and Louisiana,” Vidale says.
For the past two years, 2Deep Entertainment has helped organize the Red and Black Bash, an indie rock concert at the University of Cincinnati.
Vidale brought syndicated columnist Roland Martin to Alcorn State University in Mississippi in February. 2Deep has also brought comedy shows to Dillard University, a magic show to Hiram College and the singer-songwriters Daya and Chris Jamison to YSU.
All of this is a long way from where Vidale started. Born in Charlotte, N.C., to Trinidadian parents, Vidale moved back to Trinidad before arriving in Youngstown as a young man with his mother.
Vidale’s mother, a student, lacked a work visa and times were tough for the family. Vidale lived for a while at Beatitude House. The YMCA Partner With Youth program, which provides free and reduced price memberships to low-income families, provided access to the Y, where he got his first job.
“I’ve been on both sides of the fence,” Vidale says. “I was broke for a long time.”
The Rev. Kenneth Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, met the young Vidale after becoming a friend of the family.
“I took him under my wing,” Simon says.
An energetic youth who sometimes ran afoul of his teachers, Vidale lacked a male figure in his life, Simon says.
“He needed some structure,” the clergyman says. “That’s all he needed, because he had potential. He was always an adventurous, enthusiastic person.”
During his junior and senior years in high school, Vidale changed, Simon says.
“We got him involved in church,” Simon says. “He accepted Christ in his heart and he became a new person. He still had that energy, but he began using that energy in positive things.”
As a teenager, Vidale had another fortunate meeting, this time with businessmen George Ogletree, at Ursuline High School.
“He was one of the speakers,” Vidale remembers, “and he gave me a book called Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which changed my life, by Robert Kiyosaki.”
“I read it and in the back of the book it had his number. And that’s how he knew you read the book. There were maybe 17 of us [students] and only two of us read the book and actually called him. That’s how we started meeting and talking.”
These relationships helped Vidale gain a focus and begin his business, he says.
However, finding funding for his business proved difficult.
“Finding financing is a huge problem,” Vidale says. “To be honest with you, we had to bootstrap the business for the first two years.”
Vidale found support from the Minority Business Assistance Center in Youngstown, says Jonathan Bentley, executive director of human relations for the city of Youngstown and counselor for the center.
“Terrill is one of our MBE clients. He’s a minority business enterprise client,” Bentley says.
All government contracts in Ohio require a 15% set aside for businesses that are at least 51% minority owned. It affects state universities as well.
Becoming MBE certified allows a company to compete for those set-asides.
“Terrill goes into the universities, and he works with their student organizations … and schedules top celebrities and speakers to come in,” Bentley says. “They’ll ask their vendors if they qualify as a minority business enterprise.”
Fitting that criterion and having successful shows and events on his resume helps Vidale gain access to university business.
It wasn’t until 2016 that Vidale finally gained access to bank financing, he says.
“Home Savings [Bank] are the ones that stepped up to the plate,” Vidale says.
After meeting with Frank Hierro, its Mahoning Valley president, Vidale finally got the news he long hoped for.
“[Hierro] thought about it,” Vidale says. “And he called me up and said, ‘I believe in you.’ ”
The city of Youngstown approved a float loan for 2Deep Estates LLC to buy 237 E. Front St. Vidale plans to lease excess space to tenants, which he hopes will include a faith-based credit union – one of the projects he is involved with.
Vidale also works with the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence and hopes to start a youth mentoring program.
He sees these efforts, along with his move to Youngstown, as part with the revitalization of the city.
“We want to create hope,” he says of 2Deep Entertainment. “We want to bring hope back to this city.”
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.