YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Ohio Gov. John Kasich has set aside $1.5 million for the Youngstown Business Incubator in his proposed $2.4 billion capital budget.
YBI plans to use the money to expand its downtown campus with a fifth building by updating a historical building with 21st Century technology. The art deco building at 252 W. Boardman St. has been the home of the Youngstown Vindicator since 1937.
Business and advertising offices are still there, but its newsroom moved across the street nearly 30 years ago.
“We’ll be taking what is just a grand old building and re-purposing it and putting it to a more modern use,” said Barb Ewing, chief operating officer of the Youngstown Business Incubator.
That means making it work for multiple tenants at once.
YBI will use the state funding to renovate the existing building, along with more money it still needs to raise. The projected total cost will be about $6 million.
“We’ll do the project in phases. So we’ll certainly see the first phase in completion within the next year,” Ewing said.
Adding the old Vindicator building will grow YBI’s tech block by more than 30 percent. Right now, the incubator’s four buildings have roughly 120,000 square feet, and the extra building will add another 45,000.
“Because it’s a production building, we can use the bay and the lower floors, especially for additive manufacturing equipment so we’ll be able to purchase our own equipment and start doing projects,” Ewing said.
YBI plans to work with America Makes, Youngstown State University and other partners on those projects. It hopes to attract new technology-based companies to the region.
The upper floors of the building will be used for office space to keep incubating companies close to home.
“It keeps them in Youngstown and this is a community that’s grown them and invested in them so we definitely want to keep them here,” Ewing said.
The state funding still needs to be approved by the Ohio House and Senate before it’s finalized. That should happen sometime in April or May. Ewing expects it to go through fairly easily and hopes to have the money by this summer.