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Common Wealth opens cooperative office space

Billy Ludt of The Youngstown Vindicator:

“A newly opened cooperative workspace on the North Side will provide amenities for new business owners, freelancers and start-ups seeking access to office space.

Common Wealth Inc. opened the doors to its latest incubator, the Co-Work Center, 906 Elm St., in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday. Co-Work will join a strip of Common Wealth’s businesses on Elm Street, including the Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator and Lake to River Food Cooperative.

“It saves people money, rather than buying an official office,” said Jim Converse, regional economic development coordinator at Common Wealth. “It’s very affordable space, as is the space in the incubator, too.”

Previously a home, Co-Work converts living space into a functioning office with wireless internet access, meeting rooms, printers, storage and desks. The shared-use workspace can be rented by day, week and month.

“We’re really proud to be part of revitalizing this neighborhood between Wick Park and the university,” said Pat Rosenthal, executive director. “We think that it’s just at the tipping point and that we see more and more people walk by.”

The Kitchen Incubator has assisted a number of food-based start-ups and in many cases created sustainable careers for its clients. The same idea goes for Co-Work, which, Rosenthal said, can provide clients with affordable space, privacy and equipment they need to start their business.”

Read more about this new space by OCDCA member, Common Wealth. 

Photo from the Youngstown Vindicator


Feds grant $850,000 to reduce crime in Youngstown

Mike Gaunter via WFMJ:

“The fight against criminal activity on Youngstown’s South Side is getting an $850,000 shot in the arm.

The US Department of Justice has awarded the grant to the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Youngstown Police, and Youngstown State University to develop crime-reduction strategies in a target area on the South Side.

The effort will focus on Market Street, South Avenue, and the Taft and Cottage Grove neighborhoods.

The grant will fund crime-reduction activities in key areas including small businesses, residential property, community empowerment, and neighborhood revitalization.

In 2015, YNDC and its partners were awarded a Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation planning grant to analyze crime data, engage community members, review evidence-based practices, and develop a crime-reduction implementation plan.

The plan was finalized in January 2017 and submitted to the US Department of Justice for review, along with an application for implementation funding.”

Congratulations, YNDC! Read the full story.


Youngstown subscription service brings fresh produce to your table

By Alex George of WKBN 27:

“Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation’s (YNDC) Iron Roots Urban Farm is starting a new program this year called Community Supported Agriculture.

The idea behind the program is for the community to come together and invest in the farm. At the beginning of the year, members pay an upfront fee that will cover the costs for the growing season.

By investing in the program through a subscription, customers will get locally-grown produce all summer. The subscription lasts for 20 weeks from June 13 through October 31. Each week, shareholders get five to seven different seasonal items. The cost to join the program is $650 – about $33 per week.

Pickup locations are at the Warren Farmer’s Market, Idora Farmer’s Market, and Catullo Prime Meats in Boardman.

“It’s got a pretty wide variety that is going to change each week based on what is in season, what’s fresh and what’s the best quality for the week,” said Liberty Avila, Land Reuse director for YNDC.”

Read the whole article or watch the video here.


Youngstown streets get cleaning from YNDC, volunteer groups

From WKBN 27:

Saturday, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation worked to clean up the streets of Youngstown.

But they didn’t do it alone.

Volunteer groups came from Cardinal Mooney High school, Youngstown State University and Americorps, among others. They removed trash, dirt and debris from sidewalks along Indianola and took time to clean vacant lots.

YNDC organizers said being able to see results helps volunteers feel a sense of ownership for the work they do in their hometown.

“Actually, these sidewalks we’re standing on literally weren’t here this morning,” said Tiffany Sokol, YNDC housing director. “They were covered by about six inches of dirt and we’ve been able to totally clear these. So now these kids have a clear path to walk to and from school everyday.”

Read or watch the whole story here.


OCDCA receives program support grant from U.S. Bank Foundation

Ohio CDC Association (OCDCA) is pleased to announce the award of $5,000 from the U.S. Bank Foundation for the Ohio Microbusiness Development Recoverable Grant Fund.

Previously administered by the state of Ohio, in 2013, OCDCA assumed direction of the Ohio Microbusiness Development Program (OMDP) through an agreement with Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA). The purpose of the OMDP is to provide funding for community based organizations to further develop a local delivery system that encourages microbusiness development, provides low- and moderate-income (LMI) households with access to capital for business development and self-employment, and creates and retains long-term jobs in the private sector.

Nature’s Magic owner, Danielle Young, in Athens, Ohio received assistance with her business from ACEnet, an OMDP member serving Southeast Ohio. Here she promotes her products at a Kroger Supermarket.

Assistance enabled by this funding includes training, TA, or lending, with loan funds repaid into a local microbusiness recoverable grant fund.

Outcomes for our microbusiness program are strong. In 2015 we assisted 1,413 households, expanded 82 businesses and created or retained 277 jobs.

The Ohio Microbusiness Recoverable Grant Fund is a statewide fund that allows OCDCA to provide funds to member organizations in the OMDP to make micro loans to LMI entrepreneur clients. Repaid grants are placed back into the fund so that more loans can be made in the future. After an organization has approved a microloan for its client through its loan approval process, it requests a recoverable grant from OCDCA. A 1:1 match is required to use funds from the recoverable grant fund.

By expanding the OMDP with the recoverable grant fund, we continue lending to LMI entrepreneurs while leveraging the ODSA dollars to meet the biggest need of the OMDP organizations:  small business development training, TA and administrative costs.

Leslie Schaller, Deonna Barnett, and Liberty Merrill provide insights on marketing microbusiness programs, and reporting data at a Ohio Microbusiness Development Program Summit.

Funding for the Ohio Microbusiness Development Program comes from the Ohio Housing Trust Fund (OHTF) through the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA); therefore, we are very excited and thankful to have these additional dollars for the Recoverable Grant Fund from U.S. Bank Foundation!



In Youngstown: Remembering MLK, volunteers put message of community to action

By Gerry Ricciutti of WKBN 27:

“Around the Mahoning Valley, volunteers put Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message of peace and community to good use with a series of community service projects.

…Volunteers with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) boarded up vacant houses and cleaned up yards and streets in the Wick Park and Crandall Park neighborhoods.

“For the neighborhoods, it gets rid of trash. The people living next door, the neighbors who have to live with the trash every day… it improves their quality of life,” said YNDC volunteer Gia Cappabianca.

By noon, the YNDC group had already filled 200 bags of trash.”

Founded in 2009, YNDC is a member of the Ohio CDC Association.

Watch the full video here. 

A picture from YNDC of a previous service day’s volunteer power.


Land banks can offer pathway to homeownership: Matt Martin, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership

Recently, Matt Martin of OCDCA member Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership published a reasonable opinion piece about land banks on Read it below and read the original here.

“Decades of disinvestment and job loss, suburban sprawl, and more recently the profound impacts of the foreclosure crisis have left Northeast Ohio with a glut of derelict vacant properties that litter our neighborhoods  and diminish the quality of life for residents. These vacant houses are not just unsightly- they are havens for criminal activity and they destroy the property values of those around them.


This crisis has affected our entire region, and most acutely urban centers like Cleveland, but this problem is not just for big cities. Warren, Ohio, a small city of 39,000 people 52 miles southeast of Cleveland, has over 1,500 vacant houses. Nearby Youngstown is plagued with almost 4,000 vacant houses and 10,000 vacant lots, and there are at least another dozen smaller communities with the same issue including from inner ring suburbs like East Cleveland to small cities like Lima.  Add Cleveland and Akron to the equation and the regional tally is staggering.

There is no shortage of data, opinion, studies, or anecdotes about whose fault this is, and all of them matter for a variety of reasons, but the fact remains the burden of this travesty falls squarely on the shoulders of the next door neighbor, the block, the neighborhood, and the community.

The advent of county land banks in the last decade has afforded our communities with a huge tool in the fight against blight. Created by state level legislation that offers a means to fast tracked tax foreclosure of walk-away or “zombie” properties, and a means for their disposition that adds value to neighborhoods by instilling parameters that protect the community from slumlords and promote owner occupancy.

Land banks, famous for demolition, are facilitating home ownership throughout our region in ways that not only help families achieve the dream of home ownership, but help our communities restore the fabric that once made them great. The recent re-allocation of Federal Hardest Hit Funds for the purpose of demolition of blighted properties is significant in scope and size, but also as a statement that this is a problem that must be addressed. I know there are folks that say you cannot demolish your way to prosperity, but everything we’ve learned in the last few years proves that demolition is a crucial component to the prosperity we seek.

Here in Warren, we have been able to couple an aggressive demolition and land use program with a robust home ownership program and have had great success.

My friend Jim Rokakis, who runs the Thriving Communities Institute and leads the way for land banks throughout the region, often reminds me that the people that have left our community in large numbers have not taken their houses with them- this means we must face the stark reality that our housing inventory is not proportional to our population and won’t be anytime soon.

In our Garden District near downtown Warren, we have torn down two houses to save a third, and made sure that third house represented the kind of high quality home ownership opportunity our residents deserve. We’ve also supported dozens of land uses in that neighborhood, everything from yard expansions for existing homeowners to urban gardens to mitigate food insecurity and promote a sense of community.”