YBI Unveils Tech Block Building No. 5

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Tech Block Building No. 5 of the Youngstown Business Incubator is open for business.

Representatives of YBI and its various partners from government, the private sector and philanthropic community joined to celebrate the opening of the YBI campus’ fifth building in the former Vindicator Building downtown.

Barb Ewing, the incubator’s CEO, asserted from the beginning of her remarks that the evening was not about YBI alone, but rather all the pieces of the Mahoning Valley community and the nation that came together to make the $5.7 million project possible.

The building provides space for early-stage companies developing additive manufacturing technology, Ewing said.

“We get a lot of kudos in the community for the work that we do and we certainly are appreciative of that,” Ewing said. “But there’s a saying that feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it away.”

During the half-hour program, Ewing took the opportunity to thank the partners that contributed to the opening of YBI’s new building, which will be dedicated to additive manufacturing. Those include the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the state of Ohio, America Makes, Youngstown Foundation, Thomases Family Foundation, FirstEnergy and the Roth, Fibus and Hendricks families.

Funding for the renovations included $1.5 million from the state of Ohio and $500,000 from the city of Youngstown, as well as $3 million from the Economic Development Administration.

YBI and its partners put forth “a very competitive application,” said Jeannette Tamayo, EDA regional director for the Chicago region. YBI projected the building would house 350 employees five years from now, averaging a salary of $52,000, generating $18.2 million in direct payroll. Translated to income tax, those jobs will generate $500,500 for the state and $4.5 million for the federal government.

“We have great confidence that we will be back in five years to celebrate even more success,” Tamayo said.

One of the pieces of equipment moving into the building in early 2018 is the Carmel 1400 additive manufacturing system made by XJet Ltd. of Rehovot, Israel. The equipment is the “first and only 3-D printer” that can print using metal and ceramics, said Avi Cohen, XJet vice president of health care and education.

YBI is the printer’s beta site and the only place in the United States that will have the printer, Ewing said.

The equipment was developed over a decade by a company trying to “make the impossible possible,” Cohen said. The question of choosing its first customer in America wasn’t an easy one, but it was answered after he met Ewing and YBI’s team and partners.

“Youngstown is very special. It is filled with talented people, professional people, gifted people hungry to succeed,” he said. “The only limit will be the limit to their imagination to what they can do with this technology.”

“It goes without saying that we are eternally grateful to the philanthropic support that we get from this community,” Ewing said following a video showcasing the project’s philanthropic partners. “You are truly the backbone that we rely upon to do the work that we do here.”

Ewing also paid special note to the owners of The Vindicator.

“So much of Youngstown’s history has been chronicled in this building,” Ewing said. “I hope that you are proud of the legacy that you have left in this facility.”

Mark Brown, general manager of the Vindicator and the son of its publisher, Betty Brown Jagnow, expressed “mixed emotions” because the building is “so much a part of our family,” four generations of which worked there.

“We’re thrilled to see it being repurposed,” he continued. “It looks beautiful and it’s going to be a good home for a whole new technology and a whole new way of doing things in the world.”

In addition, Ewing acknowledged part of FirstEnergy’s contribution to the project in honor of the family of Jim Cossler, YBI’s Huntington Bank Entrepreneur in Residence, “chief evangelist” and Ewing’s predecessor as CEO. A pair of charging stations for electric cars is being installed in front of YBI’s Main Building on West Federal Street in recognition of Cossler’s interest in environmental sustainability.

The stations will reinforce YBI’s commitment to environmental standards and to being “a very hip and cool downtown community,” she said.

“You can’t be a cool community if you don’t have charging stations,” she said.

About 20,000 square feet of space is available for tenants in the 65,000-square-foot building, according to Ewing.

One of the building’s first tenants is Strangpresse LLC, Boardman, which manufactures extruders for the additive manufacturing industry. Having space at YBI’s new building will allow the company to prototype parts and pieces in hours as opposed to having to have them fabricated outside the company, Charles George, CEO, said.

“It’s also important to us because of the other companies here. There’s a lot of collaboration and sharing ideas,” he said. “Just the enthusiasm and the electricity being here, that’s great.”

Other tenants include Applied Systems and Technology Transfer LLC, or AST2, and JuggerBot 3D.

Pictured: YSU Provost Martin Abraham, XJet vice president of health and education Avi Cohen, YBI CEO Barb Ewing, YBI board chairman Jim Dascenzo, and Vindicator publisher Betty Brown Jagnow were among those who cut the ribbon for YBI’s Tech Block Building No. 5.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.