YOUNGSTOWN - A representative from the Small Business Administration said Tuesday that the city has all of the necessary ingredients to establish a prosperous and stable economy.
Gilbert Goldberg, division director from the SBA's Cleveland District Office, said he expects exciting things to happen now that two successful efforts - the Youngstown Small Business Initiative and the SBA Emerging 200 program - are back.
"Everything is coming together to make Youngstown and this entire area of northeast Ohio a success that will provide jobs and opportunities and bring wealth here," he said.
SBA and the Ohio Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University helped the city reintroduce the programs at a Tuesday afternoon news conference at YSU's Williamson College of Business. Goldberg was among a group of area business representatives, including local bankers, on hand to discuss the benefits of reviving the efforts.
The Youngstown Small Business Initiative combines SBA loan guarantees with additional resources offered by the city, which creates unique growth opportunities for local businesses, city officials said.
The initiative is designed to attract and keep small businesses in the city by providing greater access to capital and government contracting opportunities for entrepreneurs wanting to start, grow or maintain their business.
Small Business Initiative
Incentives for participating in the Youngstown Small Business Initiative:
Subordinated loan / performance grant - Eligible projects can receive up to 20 percent of the total project at an amount not to exceed $100,000. Subordinated loans will convert to a performance grant based on terms of the development agreement with the city.
Tax abatements - Tax abatements of 75 percent will apply to improvements on real and personal property.
Demolition grants - Grants up to $50,000 are provided to help projects requiring structure demolitions.
Facade renovation grants - The city will reimburse 40 percent of authorized exterior renovation expenses up to $20,000. Funds will be disbursed as a loan and convert to a grant once stipulated requirements are met.
Technical assistance grants - Assistance available through the Youngstown Area Development Corp. Funds up to $5,000 will be made available to qualified applicants for services needed to start a small business.
The initiative is a collaborative effort among the public sector and the local banking community. Officials said it is designed to combine resources to make capital more accessible to businesses.
"This is significant for this city," Mayor Charles P. Sammarone said.
Sammarone said Youngstown started the small business initiative in 2001, and from its initiation through 2008, the city provided $3 million to local businesses. Area banks also assisted in the effort by investing some $30 million in businesses.
However, since 2008, the city has not been able to afford to fund the program, Sammarone noted.
"During those first several years the city was able to help bring 750 new jobs to the area through this initiative," he said. "When I became mayor, I said I would do anything I could to bring the program back."
He said the city has raised $1 million to get things moving and is once again looking to the local banking community to get involved and encouraging small business owners to take advantage of the opportunities now being provided.
"We're rebuilding this city and the business community here,'' he said. "We'll do what we can to help business owners."
Also in attendance were business people who have completed the SBA e200 Emerging Leaders program.
The goal of the SBA e200 Emerging Leaders program is to identify businesses that show a high potential for growth and to provide them the network, resources and motivation required to build a sustainable business of size and scale. Betty Jo Licata, dean at Williamson, said program participants focus on developing strategies to expand their businesses.
T. Sharon Woodberry, director of the city's economic development office, said the programs will provide funding and resources to encourage new businesses and assist existing ones.
"This is a celebration," she said. "This is a step we're hopeful will move the city in the right direction economically, build businesses, provide jobs and establish a solid economy here."