Revitalizing Youngstown is focus of conference

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Dozens of people turned out Monday for the “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” bootcamp conference that focuses on revitalizing Youngstown.

Officials say higher education is a critical piece to the bigger puzzle.

“There’s a level of vibrancy that a student population and increasing the student population can do, whether it’s just they’re frequenting the businesses in the city to being a key workforce. The businesses that could benefit from the skills that they’re bringing to the table helps in many different facets,” said Lowell, Mass., Economic Development Director Theresa Park.

Dr. Martin Abraham, dean of the STEM College at Youngstown State University, said the university is crucial to bringing people in to the area.

“One part, we bring 13,000 students to the university campus on a daily basis but we also bring the creative arts so we have a population of theater, music and all of those elements which are critical and important. For the STEM College, we bring a workforce into the population,” Abraham said. “When you talk about new businesses, it’s always about young people who have this great idea ‘if I could do this,’ then we could sell it and people would buy it all over the world.”

The conference continues Tuesday with discussions that include other strategies on improving the city.

Some of those improvements already are being undertaken by the administration of Mayor John McNally.

He talked on Monday about replacing old street signs to bring uniformity to the city. Several of the new signs are on Phelps Street and West Federal Street and feature a bigger and bolder design.

Residents have been voicing concern about missing street signs and signs that are hard to read. So far, seven neighborhoods have been overhauled with the new signs, including Brownlee Woods on the upper South Side.

McNally said the sign replacement project is ongoing and will continue at an aggressive pace. The signs are being made in-house, which is said to keep costs down.

In addition, some paving projects also will be getting under way. Paving on Fifth Avenue from Gypsy Lane to the Madison Avenue Expressway should get under way in July.

The project will cost the city nothing because 80 percent of the funding is coming from the federal government and the rest is coming from the state. The contract can’t be awarded until July 1.

The Ohio Department of Transportation also will begin paving projects on Albert Street and Midlothian Boulevard next month.

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