YBI Reaches Out to the Community

By Justin Wier

Youngstown Business Incubator is launching the second phase of the five-year fundraising campaign that began in January 2013, and they’re asking for donations from the Youngstown community.

Jim Cossler, CEO of YBI, said this offers the community the opportunity to participate in one of the greatest urban comebacks ever.

“We firmly believe that if we are successful, the spectacular growth you have seen from our organization these past fourteen years will pale in comparison to what you will see from us in the next ten,” Cossler said. “We are seeking to raise $2.5 million through public contributions, to not only make critical investments in the most promising portfolio companies in the YBI, but also serve as a highly attractive drawing force for equally promising young companies.”

Colleen Kelly, director of development at YBI, said they focused on corporate sponsors in the campaign’s first year and now they’re going out into the public.

“One thing that we’re really focusing on is online donations, like $5 a month, $10 a month. We’re calling them ‘Friends of YBI’ — people that like what we’re doing here, but can’t make that major commitment or major gift, but still like the YBI, support Youngstown, what we’re doing and want to give $5 or $10 a month as a recurring gift,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the funding will go into their entrepreneurial program and their additive manufacturing program.

When YBI launched the fundraising campaign in 2013 their goal was to raise $2.5 million. They’ve already succeeded in raising $1.9 million.

They will also use the funding to help renovate their fifth building on campus.

“The fifth building will be used for graduate companies,” Kelly said. “When we have companies that are graduating, instead of them moving away from our campus we like to keep them on campus … to help our up-and-coming portfolio companies.”

Barb Ewing, chief operations officer at YBI, said the fifth building will also serve as a “manufacturing hub.”

“We have three companies on campus that do additive manufacturing, and that’s what we’re going to focus the fifth building on,” Kelly said.

YBI received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency to renovate The Vindicator office building in September.

Kelly said it’s important to note that while YBI receives a lot of funding from the state, many of the grants are contingent on matching funds.

“The thing about that funding is that it requires a match, so we need to come up with that match to enable us to use the funding that we’ve received from the state,” Kelly said.

YBI was named the number one university-affiliated business incubator in the world earlier this year.

People who want to donate can find out how at ybi.org/donate-now/.