Businesses of Downtown Youngstown Collaborate to Make a Difference

By Jordan Unger

Volunteering projects, a local magazine about entrepreneurs and upcoming downtown events were discussed at the Downtown Youngstown Partnership meeting on Aug. 25 at Christopher’s at the End of the Tunnel, a restaurant on the lower floor of City Central One.

Owners and representatives from businesses in Downtown Youngstown came to discuss business collaboration and community volunteerism. The meeting ran from 5 – 7 p.m. in Christopher’s.

The DYP has met monthly since June to establish a network amongst the downtown businesses and accomplish goals.

Sarra Mohn, co-chair of the DYP advisory team, opened the meeting with the struggles of living and working in the city.

“There’s a lot of things in this city, and everybody that’s sitting here has probably had something they weren’t able to get done fast enough, because they live in the City of Youngstown,” Mohn said. “There’s so much we have to deal with. There’s so many people trying to catch up from the old times, and everyone is [working hard] right now, but there was something you weren’t able to do.”

Mohn said this is why the DYP meetings are significant for downtown businesses.

“There is something that nobody can stop throughout the history of time, and that is people coming together and building relationships,” Mohn said.

Each meeting consists of business spotlights, where the DYP allows a representative from the chosen business to answer questions. The Youngstown Sophisticate was the business spotlighted at the meeting.

The Youngstown Sophisticate is a magazine that features entrepreneurs who live in Youngtown. Dee Michelle, founder of The Youngstown Sophisticate, said the magazine highlights people who have made a positive impact on the city.

“I started writing about the people of Downtown Youngstown, because they are so inspiring,” Michelle said. “We want to inspire people to use their time, power and gifts for the city.”

Michael McGiffin, the coordinator of Events and Special Projects for the city, said the construction on Wick Avenue, which could last up to a year, might put a damper on the holiday events that businesses on the street organize.

McGiffin overviewed the downtown events that are coming up in September. Among these included McD’s Sock Run, the Oh Wow! Silly Science Sunday on Sept. 18 and Over the Edge, a charity event where participants rappel off of the Metropolitan building, on Sept. 23 and 24.

A clean-up volunteer project was discussed at the end of the meeting. Phil Kidd, co-chair of the DYP advisory team and associate director of Youngstown CityScape, said DYP was going to start doing neighborhood work days.

“We’re going to have one Saturday morning every month where we identify a project we can do between 9 and noon.”

Kidd said that cleaning up downtown Youngstown would be a good project to start with.

“The school season down at YSU has started, and all of these students are coming into the downtown with their [families], and activities are going to be picking up in the fall,” Kidd said.

The DYP, along with help from Youngstown CityScape, YSU students and other volunteers, participated in the downtown Youngstown cleanup. Volunteers swept curb lines, removed debris from tree beds and removed the stickers from and repainted light posts and utility boxes.

Kidd said he was pleased with the amount of work that the volunteers completed at the event.

The remainder of the DYP meeting was an open-discussion on how various businesses in downtown can work together and communicate to support each other.