Williams' focus on existing businesses
The city's proposed budget includes $2.55 million for capital improvement work.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Attracting new companies to Youngstown is important, but Mayor Jay Williams said his top economic priorities are to retain and expand businesses already in the city.
Williams addressed more than 300 people Friday at a Regional Chamber breakfast at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church hall.
"The best way for the city's economy to grow is to help established businesses expand," Williams said.
Most new economic activity in the city comes from the expansion of current businesses, he added.
To encourage expansions, the proposed 2006 city budget includes $2.55 million for capital improvement projects. Most of that money is for infrastructure improvements and for land and building acquisitions.
City council is expected to approve the budget at its March 22 meeting.
The proposed budget includes money to expand the Salt Springs Road business park, purchase the vacant Erie Terminal, make improvements to 20 Federal Place (the former Phar-Mor Centre) and reconstruct Division Street to connect the Ohio Works park to the Route 711 connector.
While Williams is eager to implement changes to improve the city's economic climate, he warned those at the breakfast that change takes time.
"The change that comes to Youngstown isn't going to come overnight," he said. "It will come to Youngstown over the next three to four years. Our policy is incremental yet measurable change for the city."
Williams said his obligation as mayor is to create a climate that makes Youngstown business-friendly.
"I, as mayor, can't create one job, but we can create an environment for [businesses] to succeed," he said.
Thomas Humphries, head of the Regional Chamber who supported Williams in last year's mayoral election, said Williams is providing the political leadership needed to advance the city.
"We've been missing that political leadership in Youngstown for years," said Humphries, who had problems with former Mayor George M. McKelvey. "We've had a challenge with political leadership in the past."