Locals offended by Youngstown’s ‘bleakest’ title

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Youngstown has made another nationally publicized list, this time on BuzzFeed.com.

The website put the city on its list of the “12 Bleakest Places on Earth,” citing the steel industry collapse and the major loss of its population.

But plenty of people living and working in the Valley disagree, saying there’s lots to be proud of.

“One would be Youngstown State University. I think it’s an awesome place to be. It’s not bleak or depressing at all. I think there are parts of the city that need improvement. Other than that, I don’t find it a bleak place. I find that offensive,” said Youngstown State University student Gina Mancini.

Buzzfeed did mention there are “green shots” in Youngstown, including a new factory making tube goods and that it was named to Forbes’ list of “best places to raise a family.”

“There’s tons of lists that go around, there’s no shortage of those. Just a few months ago, we were one of the 10 best places to retire, so you gotta take that with a grain of salt. And wonder where that list came from,” said Youngstown 4th Ward Councilman Mike Ray.

Don Crane, president of the Western Reserve Building Trades Council, said the dynamics of the city and its economy have changed. He believes people from all over are taking notice, including President Obama, who mentioned Youngstown’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in his 2013 State of the Union address.

“That is so remarkable and probably has never happened before in the history of the city of Youngstown. We’ve been mentioned in the president’s State of the Union address. And we should embrace that. And a bleak city doesn’t get mentioned during a State of the Union address,” Crane said.

Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber President Tom Humphries agreed.

“If you look back then where we were at and look at where we’re at now, we’ve really moved the needle quite a bit,” he said.

But Humprhies said as long as that bleak public perception lingers, there’s still work to be done to bring Youngstown back.

“If we’re ranked the worst of something, we’re always trying to explore what we need to do to make it the best of something,” he said.

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