Youngstown turns corner, mayor says

By David Skolnick


Despite sharp declines in population and income-tax revenue, Mayor Jay Williams said Youngstown has turned the economic corner.

“Every economic renaissance has a tipping point, that point at which the momentum begins to shift in the other direction,” Williams said Friday at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber’s annual Good Morning, Youngstown! breakfast.

“I stand here before you with the sincere belief that finally the momentum has shifted in our direction,” the mayor said.

At Friday’s breakfast at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Hall, Williams pointed to V&M Star’s $650 million expansion, other new business investments in the city as well as Youngstown’s receiving national attention for its business climate.

“While one year of [economic] growth won’t make up for several years of decline,” Williams said the city’s “best days are indeed ahead of us.”

But the city will only improve if “we continue to set the visions, continue to follow the planning, continue to collaborate as we have in the previous decade,” he said.

It’s also vital for the city to continue to work closely with the federal and state governments for Youngstown to progress, Williams said.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Wednesday that Youngstown’s population declined by 18.4 percent between 2000 and 2010. That’s the largest percentage decline of any of Ohio’s 25 most populous cities.

Williams said the data has “given us pause” and “can be disheartening.” But he added that “it means our efforts are that much more important.”

Also, the city’s income tax revenue dropped from $48.7 million in 2006 to $41.1 million last year.

“Youngstown has great employees doing more with less,” Williams said.

Connie Hathorn, the Youngs-town school district’s superintendent, also spoke at Friday’s event.

On the job for a few months, Hathorn said, “People, let me tell you. I did not know what I was getting into.”

The superintendent acknowledged that Youngstown, the worst school district on the state’s report card, is “at the bottom. But I promise we’re going to come out of this.” Hathorn promised changes to the school system. He declined to disclose details Friday, saying they’ll be announced shortly.

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