West Side Business Owners Take Concerns to City Officials

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City leaders met with business owners on Youngstown’s West Side on Monday to discuss everyday issues and challenges keeping clients from coming through their door.

It was the third informational forum hosted by 4th Ward Councilman Mike Ray and was another chance for business leaders to get to know one another and cut through some of the red tape associated with certain city hall departments, such as code enforcement.

Mahoning Avenue is one of a few corridors the city and business owners have focused on since it’s a main thoroughfare in and out of downtown Youngstown.

Ray said he’d like to help create a West Side business directory to highlight all the shops and services available along the Mahoning Avenue corridor.

“There’s a tire shop, I can get my tires there, there’s the burrito shop, or you know, which florists there are, we have a couple florists on there. So all those different things, I think it would be great, and then you know the hours and the phone numbers, and that kind of stuff,” Ray said.

Tom Roberts took over Big’s Burgers & Beer from his brother in January.

“If we can get some of that business that’s starting down there to come up this way, I  mean, there’s a lot of traffic on the avenue, and just hoping to draw them in,” Roberts said.

A little further west on Mahoning Avenue sits Michael’s Cabinet Shop. With more than 38 years in business, owner Michael Walkowiec has seen a shift in where his orders come from.

“I mean all my contracts, all my jobs, are coming from the suburbs. Right here in the city, there’s nothing,”Walkowiec said.

Ray started bringing business leaders along the Mahoning Avenue corridor together last year. The group has addressed economic development and safety concerns, and on Monday members got to ask questions of representatives from city code enforcement.

Sean Martin, owner of Casey’s Custom Exhaust, said the office didn’t give him much time to fix a gaping hole in front of his repair shop that was left by a semi-truck.

“Technically they gave me one day to get it fixed, and that’s why I called down and they said they were going to either have me arrested and have me thrown in jail and pay a $500 fine, or get it done,” Martin said.

Martin and his lawyer filed an appeal with code enforcement, and Monday’s meeting gave him a chance to give code enforcement officials a direct update on where he is with the repairs.

The hope is by keeping an open dialog, city and business leaders can work together to make Youngstown, and the West Side, an attractive place to live and work.

“To make sure we’re taking care of and patronizing those businesses that are in our neighborhood and our community,” Ray said.

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