With many issues to fix in city, find a balance and flourish

It did not take long, nor did I expect it to, before a person would trample on a $70 million mission for downtown — and for American manufacturing.

It was the first person, in fact, to get to our vindy.com message board Friday morning:

“Well, unless you can use some of that $30 million [the feds’ portion; $40 million from public and private groups] to bring down the urban blight, i.e., the dilapidated residential and commercial properties in Youngstown, there can be no future for Youngstown.”

It’s consistent with what a professor friend once said: Too many in Youngstown — after 30-plus years of a crushed economy — have a fixation on the depressed and the dilapidated, and that fixation can strangle our ability to rise.

Or at least the ability of some, I suppose.

I sometimes read too much of the same from our mayor of the moment, especially with the topic of turning over the Covelli Centre to someone else, and that scares me some.

We do have many issues to fix in the city.

I remember walking with a colleague downtown in my first year here. And in the sidewalks were cracks and weeds, and they were pointed out as what’s a travesty about the city.

I’ve lived in some pretty good cities and visited many others, and I said that I’ve seen the same cracks and weeds there, too. But those cities also had many great pursuits about them.

So as we invest in fixing the urban blight of dilapidated homes and roads and neighborhoods, or in some offices, ponder selling or leasing Covelli, the gem of downtown, we must continue to invest in the positive and future of the city.

It’s a conscience compass, no doubt.

It would be a travesty to neglect the poor and the dilapidated and the crumbling — and invest only in the glitter and the ivory towers.

Likewise, it’s true for the opposite: to spend all funds on the problems, and not invest.

To do so creates a potential of nothing worth anything when the problems are fixed. That’s called Gary, Ind., and Newark, N.J.

So we need a delicate balance of fixing and flourishing.

And with Thursday’s announcement, we flourish ... with ... with .... additive manufacturing.

I’ll admit, the term is as foreign to me as la canne, club swinging and some of those other “sports” they played in the Olympics.

But I do know that in 1998 or so, another term foreign to most people was thrust upon our city: a business incubator.

In our A1 story today, Jim Cossler, the boss of the Youngstown Business Incubator that will house this venture, revisits some of the bemusement people had back then when YBI got started.

Prior to him and YBI was the Youngstown Central Area Community Improvement Corp. — leaders who looked at the west end of downtown and its sea of dilapidated storefronts and depression and blight and said they could do something with this.

I’m proud, too, that YCACIC’s first folks included my bosses — the owners of your local newspaper.

The George V. Voinovich Government Center, YBI, the Mahoning County Children Services Board Building, the Seventh District Court of Appeals, the Oakland Center for the Arts, the Taft Technology Center and more.

All from a handful of leaders who stayed true to a belief: If you work on the worst of our community while keeping a vision toward what the best can be, the two will merge someday.

This week, that someday was Thursday.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. E-mail him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com.

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