Even more startups and small businesses could be coming to Youngstown. A partnership with the city and social impact vendor will create new opportunities for disadvantaged business owners. Those behind the idea explained the potential the program has.

Bridgeway Capital's MOBI Youngstown-Warren program is working to support emerging small businesses. From coaching to business lessons, and even offering a space to grow their brand, the new program is now looking for applicants.

According to the website, MOBI provides comprehensive support for emerging small businesses through expert-driven education, coaching, and business-building services. Facilitated by industry experts in strategy, finances, legal, marketing, and more, MOBI helps close gaps in business fundamentals to achieve operational excellence and pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. 

"The failure rate of a startup within the first three years, statistics say, will fail," said Stephanie Gilchrist, Director of Economic Development for the City of Youngstown. "So the goal here is to prevent that from happening."

MOBI is working to close gaps in business fundamentals by encouraging and guiding underprivileged business owners. The program consists of 6 months of sessions that will help launch entrepreneurs to the next level, plus funding for additional coaching.

"I think it's a good thing to add more businesses to Youngstown because there's a lot of things we don't have," said Councilman Julius Oliver, Chairman of the Community Planning and Economic Development Committee. "I always tell people Youngstown is a blank canvas. However you want to paint it, paint it. Whatever we don't have, you could put it here as an entrepreneur."

Those participating in the program can use the space at the Youngstown Business Incubator, located in the downtown district.

"This is just programming," Gilchrist added. "So, it's a lot of 12-week and 6-month sessions. There will be a 6-month course that entrepreneurs can take in Youngstown and Warren."

"You got partners like Valley Partners and you got all of our economic development team," Oliver explained. "But at the end of the day, it's still not enough for the mentorship of being successful in business and for the funding of being in business and that's what's important about this organization. They're providing business training to make you successful as well as funding. If we have more than one funder, it's great people not everyone will be dipping into the same pot. Therefore, you  can fund more businesses."

This partnership comes at no cost to the city. Based in Pittsburgh, Bridgeway Capital receives funding from the federal government to help underserved communities.

"There are plenty of organizations that can benefit from this," Oliver added. "Off the top of my head, Persayus Way is one of the programs. There are multiple entrepreneurs right now trying to get off the ground. But, when you're new, you don't have the ability to get the funding. This organization will help mentor you into a place of success as well as give you funding to get you started."

Applicants can visit the social impact lender's website to learn more about the sessions from May through October of this year.