YBI Already Working to Fill Space Added by $2.3M Renovation

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A planned $2.3 million renovation at the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Tech Block Building No. 5 will provide another 19,000 square feet of space for companies, but incubator leaders already have uses lined up for nearly half of that. 

Barb Ewing, the incubator’s CEO, said she expects construction to begin by the end of the year on the project, announced Thursday afternoon. Completing the work should take about 12 months. 

The majority of the funding will come from a $1.9 million grant from the Economic Development Administration funded by the Cares Act, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said via Zoom during a media event at the building. 

“It is a huge opportunity for us to continue to lead the way with the newest way of manufacturing, the newest way to build things through 3D printing,” said Ryan, D-13 Ohio. “We are in a very deep competition with China to dominate the industries of the future and we as a county have got to make these investments.” 

The grant will be used to build out space on the second and third floors of the building as well as on its lower level, replace the building’s roof and freight elevator level, and make façade improvements, Ewing said.

The project also will include extending heating, ventilation and air conditioning services and adding electricity and data infrastructure in areas that lack it now, said Heidi Ruby, YBI’s director of operations.  

To fund the $475,795 local match, Ewing said the project has received a contribution from the Youngstown Foundation for a classroom and meeting space to be built on the second floor, but she declined to provide the amount.  

“We’re in pretty good shape to raise the remaining dollars,” she said. 

When YBI officials applied for federal funds in 2015 to renovate the former Vindicator Building to house additive manufacturing companies, they estimated that at the end of three years they would have two portfolio companies and a partnership with YSU housed in the building, Ewing said. Nearly 3½  years later, there are 10 companies in the building along with the YSU partnership.

“There is no more available space left in this facility,” she said. 

Zac DiVencenzo, president and co-founder of JuggerBot 3D, said he plans to expand his company’s space from its current 3,200 square feet to about 9,000 square feet. The company, which designs and manufactures industrial grade 3D printers, needs the additional space to increase its production capacity, research and development efforts and team, he said. 

“It’s very easy for us to need space due to the size of the equipment that we’re developing,” he said. 

Once the office space is built out on the second floor, JuggerBot will move its design, engineering, marketing and sales teams there, while retaining the first-floor space for production and assembly. As the company grows, the most immediate need will be for production workers to assemble printers, he said. 

In addition to potentially moving a new piece of equipment into the new space, a YBI portfolio company intends to move in from out of state, taking another 1,000 to 1,500 square feet, Ewing said. Several existing building tenants also have maximized their existing space and need to expand. 

“Fitz Frames is just waiting to close a round of investment. They are ready to grow at this point,” she said. Of the space that will be added, only about 10,000 square feet is uncommitted, she said. 

In a YBI news release, John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes, the national additive manufacturing hub that is a tenant of another building on the incubator’s campus, applauded the EDA grant award.  

 “The result will be a space to foster the continued growth of existing, and the birth of new additive manufacturing companies, helping showcase the results of our joint efforts as an ecosystem,” he said.  

Given the pace that the new space already is being filled, Ewing acknowledged she already is looking at finding additional space for portfolio companies and has had conversations with private developers about partnering with them.

Pictured: Zac DiVencenzo, president and co-founder of Juggerbot 3D, said his company will more than triple its space at the YBI’s Tech Block Building No. 5. Incubator CEO Barb Ewing, right, announced the building will undergo a $2.3 million renovation starting later this year.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.