Youngstown OKs Funds to Aid Minority-Owned Businesses, Young Entrepreneurs 

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Board of Control approved contracts to provide assistance to existing businesses and young entrepreneurs at its meeting Thursday morning. 

Among the agreements was a $150,000 contract with Carmella M. Williams LLC to provide microenterprise assistance and technical assistance to minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses through the Community Development Block Grant program utilizing funds the city received last year from the first coronavirus relief bill. 

The contract approved Thursday morning supersedes a prior contract the city approved with Carmella Williams, founder of the Carmella Marie line of hair and body products, to provide those services, said Beverly Hosey, city community development director.  

Under the new contract, Williams will oversee microenterprise grants for the targeted businesses and assist them with assistance in areas such as marketing, website development, budgeting and securing outside financing, Hosey said. She will work with the city’s economic development division to establish maximum and minimum amounts for the microenterprise grants, for which a total of $226,000 is available.  

All of the services Williams provides will have to tie back to COVID-19, she added. 

The board also approved $20,000 in CDBG funds for the Youngstown Business Incubator’s Youth Entrepreneurship program. The funds will be used to supplement the existing Launchpad program that YBI launched earlier this year, said Stephanie Gilchrist, director of YBI’s women and youth entrepreneurship programs. 

“The city funding is going to allow us to be able to recruit and focus on kids who live in the city,” she said. It will target entrepreneurs ages 9 to 18 from households of low to moderate income.  

The city approved another $20,000 targeting assistance to city youth with Inspiring Minds Youngstown by offering a youth enrichment program.

“We’re talking about mentoring, we’re talking about life skills,” Hosey said. Other aspects of the program will involve developing leadership skills and learning to get along with others.  

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