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Mayor decries Youngstown on dying cities list

Published: Wed, August 6, 2008 @ 12:09 a.m.


Regional Chamber President Thomas Humphries


Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams


YOUNGSTOWN — The city is among the top 10 fastest-dying cities in the U.S., according to a Forbes article published on the magazine’s Web site Tuesday.

The article did not rank the cities in any particular order but did reference information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau for each city, including migration since 2000, total population change, unemployment rate for June 2008 and annualized gross domestic product growth.

Forbes’ list of dying cities does not hold much meaning for Mayor Jay Williams, though.

“One list from someone who has not been to Youngstown and seen what is going on doesn’t have much credibility with me,” Williams said. “You can take data and have the data say anything you want.”

But while Williams discredits the Forbes article, Regional Chamber President Tom Humphries said the city is among many urban centers across America that have been losing population; it has just been losing it at a faster rate.

“I didn’t know that we would be in the top 10; that’s disheartening,” Humphries said.

“Our only hope is that we’re at the bottom of the decline, and we hope to see it stabilize and turn around a little bit,” he added.

Both Williams and Humphries pointed to the Youngstown 2010 project as evidence that the city has been attempting to turn its problems upside down.



1WesHightower(50 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

So once in a blue moon whenever there is a particularly good article or list of which Youngstown is part, is the Mayor so equally as quick to denounce and refute its validity???

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2JeffLebowski(953 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Ignoring what is painfully obvious is not going to make it go away, Mr. Mayor. Certainly this is not a point of distinction but factual nonetheless. Shame on you, sir; your opinion on this is an insult to your consituency.

Also, the question here is not whether or not the city is "attempting to turn its problems upside down" as the city has been "attempting" to do so for 30 years; the question is if and when the city will ever elect someone who will help it succeed and hold that person accountable.

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3Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

How can you reply on One magazines lists.
Back in January of this year, Youngstown was ranked 96th as Best cities for jobs in 2008, ahead of Stockton, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Fresno, CA, Detroit, MI.
And in April of this year was in the top 10 of Worse cites for Jobs in 2008. And now this!
Not always greener on the other side.....

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4ytownoptimist(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

The citizens of the greater Ytown area have to start taking responsibility for the state of this town. Its not always the fault of the mayor. Its about the officials we all elect locally & federally. Its about our addiction to union only jobs. Its about years & years of looking at short-term gain instead of long-term potential. What about our local millionaires that invest in other states instead of here? What about shopping locally instead of in Cleveland & Pittsburgh? How about not griping about school levies when children are the future? I'm sick of the negative mindset in Ytown yet people expect to have good press when we don't try to help ourselves or support local attempts to rejuvinate areas. We need to all come together (suburbs, too) & revive the city of Youngstown. Let's develop businesses & bring new businesses to the city. If not then why are people surprised that younger generations have been fleeing? The changes should have begun 20 years ago - better late than never.

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5Bull_Chip(170 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I am sorry, but Y-Town is what is dragging the area down, Y-Town is the problem. The changes do not need to be made in the surrounding area, by the surrounding area, paid for by the surrounding area or managed by the surrounding area, Y-Town is where the changes need made and paid for by a RIF of current city employees.

2 ¾% income tax with no services to show for it is what drives businesses and population away

Crime is what drives businesses and population away

Failure of the Police Department to respond to homes being torn apart for scrap metal is what drives businesses and population away

A completely failed public school system is what drives businesses and population away

Corruption in city employment and operations is what drives businesses and population away

Entire neighborhoods being abandoned and turned over to the thugs is what drives businesses and population away

Excessive property taxes with nothing to show for it is what drives businesses and population away

“The home and furnishings were completely destroyed by the arson set fire with an estimated loss of $7,000.” is what drives businesses and population away

Only government money being invested for “prevailing wage” construction jobs with no view for the cost of operating the edifices constructed (Convocation Center) is what drives businesses and population away

Entire areas of the city being ruled by thugs and drug dealers without Police interference is what drives businesses and population away.

If the Forbes study was based only on the city and not the broader economic unit, Y-Town would be a clear winner in the race to the bottom by American cities, not just in the top (worst) ten! The 70% of the income tax that is collected from non-residents without providing them any services is what is keeping the city afloat today. With the closing and downsizing of hospitals and other services in the city, that number will now be falling also.

DEPENDS Youngstown -NOTE: this is not a misspelling

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6ytownoptimist(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Excuse me but there aren't a plethora of jobs for college educated individuals in Poland & Boardman unless you open up your own business. Who has the $ to do that unless they go work for daddy's business? This town has squandered YSU's output of great minds & the potential the university brings to the city. We need to approach companies across the US to locate distribution centers here or regional management, utilize "out of the box" thinking for education & gentrification and, most of all, stop being suburban snobs to the city of Ytown. Its not like Canfield is Greenwich, CT!

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7Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

New growth

Youngstown's downtown, which once underscored the community's economic difficulties, is a site of new business growth. The Youngstown Business Incubator, located in the heart of the downtown, houses several start-up technology companies, which have received office space, furnishings, and access to utilities.Some companies supported by the incubator have earned recognition, and a few are starting to outgrow their current space. One such company–Turning Techonologies–has been rated by Inc. Magazine as the fastest-growing privately held software company in the United States and 18th fastest-growing privately held company overall. In an effort to keep such companies downtown, the incubator secured approval to demolish a row of vacant buildings nearby to clear space for expansion. The project will be funded by a $2 million federal grant awarded in 2006. Meanwhile, the downtown has retained its traditional role as the community's financial center. Several banks, including JP Morgan Chase, National City, Huntington, and First National Bank have offices in the city; and the Youngstown-based Home Savings & Loan is headquartered there.

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8Bull_Chip(170 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

As I posted previously "The 70% of the income tax that is collected from non-residents without providing them any services is what is keeping the city afloat today. With the closing and downsizing of hospitals and other services in the city, that number will now be falling also."

There are anecdotal (Ex. Business Incubator) examples of isolated progress, but for the reasons I stated previously, the city is decaying and dying without a sufficient reduction in spending. The Forbes report minimizes the problems of Y-Town because the study includes the entire economic area. If you look at all of the positives in the surrounding burbs, and subtract them from the analysis, you have only Y-Town.

If you live in the city, you can bury your head in the sand and say it isn’t that bad, or you could demand change and accountability. Once that is accomplished, others will be anxious to invest in the city. Until then, it will be treated as the putrid, festering pustule that it appears to be.

Those of us outside the city can not force change, we aren’t allowed to vote even if we pay Y-Town 2 ¾% of our income (which I was until I left the City). We also aren’t going to give the drug addict known as Youngstown money to go out and get its’ next fix, even if they promise it is for the WRTA.

No, Youngstown must change Youngstown & pay for it by RIF of current employees. It could, it should, but it probably won’t.

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9INYOURFACE(33 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago


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10paulydel(1508 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I am formally of Warren and whenever I come home to visit my family I drive through Youngstown. While the mayor is justified in being proud of Youngstown its hard to say Forbes doesn't know what they are talking about when you see skeletons of former steel plants still standing,and not just in Youngstown, but surrounding areas, with grass growing around the plants and coming up through the parking lots. If people are waiting for steel to come back to the "Hay Days" I don't think thats going to happen as long as we keep buying steel and everything else from other countries.

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11metz87(884 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

The truth hurts and it is that we are dying a slow painful death. We could change that but not with the way we run the city and all the crime we got. WHo wants to move into a city like that?

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12Real_Revitalization(1 comment)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Did not take Forbes to acknowledge this finding. The Yo was lost when steel, jobs and materials were out-sourced due to the NAFTA deal..Clinton did not have to sign the policy. If he not pandered to the Chinese and TRULY fought for the middle class and your beleaguered state rep who fought for pork and friends agenda, maybe Mahoning Valley would've stood the test of the times....Your whole state has been cash poor in the red since the late seventies and early eighties...Why dont you merge with other cities close by? You will never generate revenue for infrastructure, roads, residential streets or you educational system.

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13metz87(884 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

The issue there is you lsoe your indentiy instead of boardman,Poland or Austintown it's Youngstown and will all the schools merge to ointo Youngstown? The bigger a city the more it costs to run unless you waste money.

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14ytownoptimist(86 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

FYI: If you work in any city and commute from a suburb, you usually pay city taxes to some extent. That is the way Chicago & NYC are setup & you just deal with it & stop crying. If the burbs are so great, why aren't those jobs located there? I hear all criticizing here but no ideas to help. Typical. What does Bull_Chip want? Dissolution of Ytown? What about the good people that live in the city? How close-minded and selfish this attitude of only taking care of the suburbs & bashing the city. Its this attitued that hurts Ytown from helping itself.

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15Bull_Chip(170 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

YTown-Delusional, you have an excellent point about the jobs in the city. I think we should move the County seat and county jobs to Canfield, the federal courts to Boardman, St. Eves to Boardman (oh, that’s right, we are) and YSU to Austintown. Enough Federal largess for the city! YSU’s location is simply an unfortunate artifact of when Y-Town was a hub for the area. I guess maybe we could leave it there and just put the new community college in Austintown.

That takes care of the vast majority of jobs suburban residents have in the city and, I might add, the primary income tax base for the city.

As far as your post “How close-minded and selfish this attitude of only taking care of the suburbs & bashing the city. Its this attitued that hurts Ytown from helping itself.”

The suburbs take care of the suburbs and the county and the Metro Parks, now is it unrealistic to expect the city to take care of the city? Oh, the suburbs have the money and J and the city want it so the suburbs should just open their wallets and turn their heads?

No, before any one should think about aiding the city, there needs to be fiscal responsibility and over all accountability. If the employees of your bank just left their jobs early and didn’t lock it up, would you see that as responsible? How about we talk about YPD officers?

I just can’t fathom what you mean by “Its this attitued that hurts Ytown from helping itself.” --hurts Ytown form helping itself---????

It only “hurts” Ytown from helping itself to my money! It doesn’t prevent the city administration, employees or residents from working to better themselves. Demand accountability, reduce city payroll, enforce the laws, arrest and imprison criminals, fix the schools or outsource them and wipe out the culture of corruption that is and has been Valley Think for the last 70 years or so!

Then UN-Real has the audacity to post “The Yo was lost when steel, jobs and materials were out-sourced due to the NAFTA deal”. The mills shut down long before NAFTA. They shut down as a result of decreased national demand, increased foreign production capabilities and union work rules. The management and the unions thought the good times would go on forever, so there was no need for increased efficiency, cost control or any other silly standard business practice. Everyone knew the mills were 2B2F (too big to fail). You UN-Real are the reason I fear for this country, you obviously do not undestand history, only social urban legends.

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16MCIGUY37(9 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Well said Bull_Chip and Oldmangrump.

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17backhome(8 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I've recently moved back to Youngstown to retire. Not exactly a rose-colored optimist, I do see the city's undeniable gentrification potential around areas like Mill Creek Park and the Northside's historic homes surrounding Wick Park and up Fifth Avenue. This is still a lovely city. But it seems to be suffering the same inadequate improvement as Germany after WWII.

The Germans had a woeful reputation to reconstruct after the war -- a close-minded racist belief system that, it turns out, was reprehensibly wrong. Instead of attending to that racism with psychological restructuring, they concentrated on their cities. Too embarrassed to rebuild their psyches, they rebuilt buildings instead. That, it appears, is where Youngstown is at today.

Driving through the downtown is physically impressive. The beautiful courthouse building, the new Chevrolet Center, DeYor. It looks good. But the racism here is the real issue that very few talk about. It's the albatross that really drags this place down. And unless you've lived in integrated cities where people do "just get along," you probably imagine your beliefs here - about blacks - are accurate. But they're not.

There is not an underclass that lives in the city. There are just poor inner-city schools, generations of poverty-thinking, and and an unbelievably ineffectual police department - finally proved by the recent censure of the officers who left their shifts early and another who refused to respond to a 9-1-1 call. Yes, the Southside has become dangerous. Properties in surprising disrepair. But that's what police are for - to deal with the danger, to protect and serve. Not to get paid to run away. The majority of Southsiders are just families who are even more afraid of the criminals than the police are. They need, deserve, and pay for protection.

Everyone in the Mahoning Valley can contribute to Youngstown's resurgence - especially if given opportunity on a level playing field. The problem of severely inadequate opportunity needs to be addressed.

Germany, in the millenium, is finally recognizing its errant Aryan belief system, its errant history, with films like Goodbye Lenin, The Marriage of Maria Braun, Nasty Girl. It's time for Youngstown to realize the same. No, the white race is not better. No, it's not life-threatening to drive down Glenwood or Market Street. Yes, it is possible to attend an evening event in downtown without being stabbed.

To solve a problem, the problem must be named. Let's call it racism - antiquated, stupid, wrong. And let's work on it.

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18Mimi2BC(147 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Well said Bull.

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19metz87(884 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

fixing it though is ahrd to do and wil lnot happen in one day .It will tkae alot of ahrd work and a couple of years to do.

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20falconalum(2 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

I've heard rumor that the mayor wants the surrounding suburbs to become part of the city of Youngstown. What a complete debauchery this would be? Hopefully they will consider the fact that educated people, who have any interest in their own and their children's futures, will flea the area at a more rapid pace than ever. After moving out of the Youngstown area, I have done nothing but urge my family and close friends to get out now. Unfortunately new business will not come into Youngstown, there is just simple nothing left there to offer.

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21ytown9999(55 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Here, here. Bully for Bull Chip, well said.

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22YtownSports(292 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Yes, there are a few signs of improvement, but city government seems to get in the way more than it helps. Losing almost 40% of its population since 1980 or so doesn't create a picture of health for the city. The truth is, this entire area seems to have and project a negative image of itself. We don't work together effectively. Until we think of ourselves (Youngstown, Warren, Boardman, Austintown, Struthers, Canfield, Poland, etc.) as part of the same community and begin to attack problems and develop solutions as one community, we are destined to flounder. Youngstown is the weak link in our chain. We can all be stronger if we find ways to help fix that link...and Youngstown doesn't get to call the shots!

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23metz87(884 comments)posted 7 years, 3 months ago

Well it does need a overhaul,the whole city might need one.

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