YO! App Links Consumers, City Businesses with Rewards

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — There is a new app that enables Mahoning Valley residents to shop local within the city of Youngstown — and be rewarded.

YO! app was launched Friday morning at Common Goods Studio, a small business at 2000 Canfield Road. “The idea of the app is to support small businesses,” said T. Sharon Woodberry, director of economic development for Youngstown.

Nearly 100 local businesses are working with the app, which is structured with a rewards program, called City Bites.

Rewards are earned with purchases made at those businesses with a registered credit, debit or prepaid debit card linked to a YO! account. Rewards may then be redeemed at registered businesses. All rewards are funded by the city of Youngstown and there is no cost to users or businesses.

“This app is just a fantastic example of how the city has been putting technology first,” said Lauren McNally, 5th Ward council. “This is a living, breathing thing that will continuously be updated.”

Conversations about creating YO! app began last November, Woodberry said. And it was during these conversations that Sheri Bodo offered her space at Common Goods Studio.

“I posed the question [to the city],” Bodo said. “If you ever want to do a launch event here, please let me know.”

Lauren McNally, 5th Ward council; Nikki Posterli, city director and community planning and economic development; and Sheri Bodo, owner of with Common Goods Studio in Youngstown. The local business hosted the city’s official launch of the YO! App Friday morning.

To create the app, the city signed an agreement with Colu.com, a global technology company specializing in this type of service. According to the company’s website, Colu “encourages local purchases by rewarding urban actions with City Coins.” Among its clients is the city of Boston, which worked with Colu to launch the city’s B-Local app in May.

A preliminary localized version of the YO! app was created by the company, tested and accepted by city officials.

“It really epitomizes what we’re trying to accomplish with this app, and that is to be a light, a beacon to our businesses and make it easier for our residents to find these businesses,” Woodberry said.

Common Goods Studio was “the perfect location” to publicly launch the app “because of what Sheri and her whole business model offers,” she continued.

That business model includes promoting other small businesses.

“It really epitomizes what we’re trying to accomplish with this app, and that is to be a light, a beacon to our businesses and make it easier for our residents to find these businesses,” Woodberry said.

Nikki Posterli, director of community planning and economic development, expressed gratitude toward Bodo for hosting the launch, while congratulating Woodberry and city employees for working on the technology that will bring more customers to local businesses.

“One of the things we noticed early on” during the COVID-19 pandemic was the city “wanted to be better-connected” with businesses, Posterli said.

And so city team members brainstormed updating a resource guide and researched how to make the city a “hub.”

This app is a “great opportunity,” Posterli said, to see which types of small businesses are successfully operating throughout the community.

“This is fantastic,” McNally added.

Anyone can plan their entire night out by using announcements made through the app, the councilwoman added, which in turn will generate revenue for small businesses while giving consumers “a little kickback” for shopping local.



Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.