YBI Offers Naming Rights for Its Fifth Building

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Barb Ewing looks over a balcony above the two-story Murray & C. Kenneth Fibus Advanced Manufacturing Lab in what today is known as Tech Block Building #5, the Youngstown Business Incubator’s fifth building that’s undergoing a $5 million renovation.

“There are lots of manufacturing facilities that have 12- to 15-foot ceilings,” far short of the approximately 50-foot height of that bay, she said.

“This is a differentiator for the building.”

Among the features of the advanced manufacturing lab is a hookup for an overhead crane. The two-story height enables work to be done in a space similar to a traditional manufacturing setting.

The advanced manufacturing lab is named for Murray Fibus, who founded Steel City Corp. in 1939, and his son, Ken, who is president of Dinesol Plastics in Niles.

Ken Fibus, who is 83, had no sons, said Bob Hendricks, executive vice president of Dinesol. Hendricks married the youngest of Fibus’ four daughters.

“Ken is a very generous man and he’s got very heavy ties to Youngstown,” Hendricks said. “It seemed to be a good way to pay tribute to he and his father and all that they’ve done.”

The lab is one of three spaces YBI has secured naming rights for in the 67,000-square-foot building. The first-floor manufacturing space is being named the Sam A. & Judy B. Roth Manufacturing Floor and the front foyer is being named for the Brown family, owners of The Vindicator, which sold the building to YBI.

“This is going to be the nicest building on our campus,” Ewing remarked. “This is the one that has character. This is the one that has history. And it’s got the most open concept, where you can see infinite possibilities.”

Contractors are working toward a March opening, Ewing reports. The project is “generally” on schedule, she says, but removal of wood-block flooring filled with lead proved more expensive than expected. Demolition is completed, electrical and plumbing work is underway and a passenger elevator is being installed.

The renovation budget is $5 million, raised from federal and state sources, plus the $700,000 YBI borrowed to purchase the building. That $5 million gets the building to a “vanilla envelope [state] so that we can do the additional build out as we have specific portfolio companies coming into the space,” Ewing said.

“Ideally, we would like to raise enough money to pay the mortgage,” said Colleen Kelly, YBI director of development.

Naming opportunities still available include classroom space ($100,000), two conference rooms ($50,000 apiece), the executive board room ($75,000) and the basement manufacturing space ($125,000), plus $35,000 annually for additive manufacturing programs and $15,000 annually for the entrepreneurship programs.

Naming rights for the building itself are $700,000, Kelly said. While no one has expressed interest yet, “We’re hopeful,” she added.

Sam Roth, past CEO of the former Roth Bros. in Austintown, now owned by Sodexo, said he and his wife had previously given to YBI and were approached by Kelly about naming opportunities. They donated $100,000 for the manufacturing floor.

“It’s very important to have that type of facility doing such great work in our community. It adds to the future of our community,” Roth said. “We made our money in the Youngstown area and we wanted to give back.”

Hendricks declined to state the amount of his family’s contribution and also noted past financial support for YBI. “We’ve had our opportunity by being in Youngstown, and as people are successful, you’ve got to give back and support the next group,” he said.

“The incubator is trying to get small businesses started in Youngstown, and I can’t think of a better situation than that,” he continued. “We need more business, we need more jobs and if the incubator can help start those businesses up and we have the capacity to help and support them, then we want to do it.”

As the building is completed, other spaces will be available for naming rights, Kelly said. “There are great opportunities for the community to get involved in this project and to name spaces,” she remarked.

The building will provide incubation space for additive manufacturing startups and house equipment that YBI shares with Youngstown State University and other regional partners, Ewing said.

“We expect to see some of our companies that are more advanced in software who want to graduate, new companies that we’re able to attract through Valley Growth Ventures or some of our existing startups,” she continued. “It will be a mix of incubation space and graduate space.”

The space is well suited for a couple of reasons, she said.

“It’s open flexible space” with reasonably high ceilings and few walls. “There’s not a lot of workaround so if somebody needs to put in a manufacturing line in place, they can do so very easily,” she said.

“More importantly, the space is just so very cool. It’s an open design atmosphere where people can work collaboratively.”


Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.