By Grace Wyler
By GRACE WYLER
The region’s emerging advanced-materials and software industries got a boost from the state Wednesday, with the designation of downtown Youngstown as the sixth Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity.
Gov. Ted Strickland joined local community leaders and elected officials at Youngstown State University to christen the Youngstown Entrepreneurial Hub of Advanced Materials Commercialization and Software Development, an economic development cluster that will help the region develop, manufacture and market new technologies in the advanced-materials and software sectors.
The Hub will focus on advanced technologies related to hard materials such as steel, titanium, magnesium, industrial ceramics and aluminum.
Harkening back to the Valley’s steelmaking legacy, Strickland said that the Hub designation will help the area re-emerge at the forefront of materials technology.
“The Valley suffered the decline of America’s most iconic industry,” Strickland said. “Now, Youngstown is serving as a national model of how a city can be reborn — it is emerging as a leader in advanced materials and software.”
The Hub will help organize and facilitate the growth of high-tech industries in the area, said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th.
“This Hub will be instrumental in developing additional advanced materials and manufacturing expertise,” he said. “This will lead to new technology development, talent attraction and increased economic opportunity.”
The Hub — which spans the downtown area between Wick and Fifth Avenues, bordered by Arlington Street in the north and Boardman Street in the south — is a regional economic development initiative that has been more than a year in the making.
Partners include Youngstown State University, the cities of Youngstown and Warren, the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Eastgate Council of Regional Governments, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, Kent State University’s Trumbull Campus and the Raymond John Wean Foundation.
The Youngstown Hub will help leverage the area’s expertise in advanced materials to create new opportunities, said Michael Garvey, president of incubator portfolio company M-7 Technologies.
“This designation builds on a long-standing tradition of advanced-materials innovation,” he said. “With this, we can proudly say that we make things here with advanced materials, using advanced algorithms and advanced software.”
With the Hub recognition, the region will be able to more effectively market itself as a center for advanced-materials technology research and development, said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of the Ohio Department of Development.
The Hub designation comes with a $250,000 development grant, and Hubs are given priority status for a number of other state grants and loans, she said.
“This announcement will go a long way in attracting future investment,” she said.