Feds award $2 million for YSU excellence training center project

The U.S. Department of Economic Development has awarded a $2 million grant to Youngstown State University to help create the Mahoning Valley Innovation and Commercialization Center in downtown Youngstown.

“This grant is yet another endorsement of and an important step towards a project we believe will help revolutionize manufacturing and workforce development in this region,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.

The YSU MVICC is one of only 35 projects nationwide to receive a grant from EDA. It is the largest grant to a university among the group.

MVICC, located in a building formerly owned by Mahoning County at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West Commerce Street, will be used to foster cross-collaborative interdisciplinary projects between STEM, business, healthcare, the arts and other fields.

“The Excellence Training Center, a key component of the MVICC project, will house the most modern advanced manufacturing equipment available for training students with the necessary 21st century skills our manufacturers need to maintain competiveness in this fast changing, technologically-driven industry,” said Mike Hripko, YSU associate vice president for Research.

This is the second federal grant for the project this year. In the spring, the Appalachian Regional Commission awarded YSU $1 million for the project. In addition, the state of Ohio had previously provided $3 million as cost share against the two awards. The MVICC is also a featured part of the university’s ongoing capital fundraising campaign, which will go public later this month. The campaign hopes to raise an additional $14 million for the project.

Hripko said the center, located in the former Mahoning County Misdemeanor Jail, will expose clients to a broad spectrum of career options and opportunities. Clients will be offered a variety of workforce development and educational pathways that will enable them to navigate from entry-level to highly skilled advanced manufacturing positions, enabling ongoing career versatility and adaptability.

YSU is partnering in the project with several local entities, including the Eastern Gateway Community College, the Mahoning County Commissioners, the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, and Youngstown Career and Technical Centers, and the Youngstown Business Incubator. The university received strong support from Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Mahoning and Columbiana Training Association, Trumbull County Department of Job and Family Services, Workforce Development Board of Mahoning and Columbiana Counties, the Workforce Development Board of Trumbull County, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, Ohio Mid-Eastern Government Association and the Northwest Commission. YSU also received commitments from local manufacturers, including Kiraly Tool and Die, Starr Manufacturing, Brilex Industries, Bird Equipment, and Butech Bliss.  

The U.S. Economic Development Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.