BBC uses Youngstown as setting for ‘Rust Belt Revival’



The national media spotlight will shine on Youngstown once again when BBC World News America airs a special report on the city’s emerging high-tech industry Friday.

The segment is the last spot in “Rust Belt Revival,” a series that looks at how three so-called Rust Belt cities — Youngstown, Kokomo, Ind., and Rockford, Ill. — are using innovative ideas and investments to try to reverse years of economic misfortune.

The Youngstown segment looks at how the Youngstown Business Incubator and flourishing high-tech companies such as Turning Technologies and Revere Data are helping the former steel town overcome its Rust Belt image.

In interviews with the Incubator’s chief executive Jim Cossler, Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams and other community leaders and activists, reporter David Brancaccio discusses how business innovation, economic diversification and regional collaboration have contributed to the city’s revival.

The idea of the segment is to show that innovation is happening in surprising places, said Sarah Robbins, senior producer of planning for BBC America.

“We are looking at revival and restoration,” said Sarah Robbins, senior producer of planning for BBC America. “It shows you something that you might not know.”

The BBC story and other national media attention give the city the opportunity to tell a different story about Youngstown, Williams said.

“It continues to let us reintroduce ourselves to the rest of the country, and indeed, the rest of the world,” Williams said. “I hope it sends a very strong message to the people of the Valley about the opportunities we have to rebuild.”

The BBC show is the latest in a string of national media stories about Youngstown’s economic revival and high-tech innovation, including a recent feature in Inc. magazine.

The positive media attention is an advantage for attracting new business interests, Cossler said, because it lets people see Youngstown in a different light.

“Prior to these articles, the story used over and over was that we are a dying Rust Belt city,” Cossler said. “I think it will be impossible to tell that dying Youngstown story ever again.”

“Rust Belt Revival” will air Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 7 p.m. on BBC America and BBC World News. Portions of the shows also will be available online at BBC America.

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