YSU President Jim Tressel Highlights Program at First Builders Association General Membership Meeting
YSU President Jim Tressel recently led the successful kickoff of four general membership meetings to be held in 2016 by The Builders Association of East Ohio and Western PA.
Hosting general membership meetings is a new approach for The Builders. Formerly, each of the five counties serviced by The Builders (Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mercer, Lawrence) held divisional meetings. But as part of a new emphasis on education and networking opportunities for Builders members, the organization launched a general meeting series this year.
Members heard first from Builders President Jim Santini of Jim Santini Builder, Inc. and Kevin Reilly, Executive Vice-President of The Builders. Each gave an update on business matters concerning the group. President Tressel then gave a detailed, informational breakdown of building and development plans for Youngstown State University and the surrounding area.
“Youngstown was located in a strategic place long ago for a reason - and that advantage hasn’t changed. There was a time when the Mahoning Valley held the highest per capita in the country. Our Valley has had its tough time, but in my opinion, seeing what’s been done over the past few years, I think it’s time to explode,” Tressel said.
YSU enrollment has increased for the first time in five years and represents the broadening of the school’s footprint. Traditionally, about 85% of students were from the five-county area. In 2014 that number jumped to 37 counties. Last year’s freshman class represented 54 counties. This year, applicants represent 85 counties.
“If we are to compete, we need to improve the look around campus,” Tressel said, adding that YSU is working with the city and private developers to totally transform Wick Avenue. A federal grant will help beautify Lincoln Avenue significantly. Fifth Avenue also is slated for development.
Additions to the area include new student housing, including a 162-bed apartment building that is already sold out, to open in August. Because of its success, phase 2 of the project is to be a 220-bed and retail space, to be completed by the summer of 2017.
“Our vision is to create a beautiful environment of a campus that grows into downtown and to provide quality housing for students who live there.”
President Tressel also outlined a host of other projects he envisions happening in the future. He referenced leveraging the Transportation Infrastructure Grant for Economic Recovery (TIGER) program and working with the Mahoning Valley Innovation & Coalition Center to create infrastructure and career-development opportunities.
In July, in conjunction with the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, YSU will work with the Warren/Youngstown Chamber to showcase the area to national site selectors for new business development. Tressel said he plans to highlight stats contained in a 70-mile radius of YSU that are unmatched by any other university in Ohio, including Ohio State:
- 6.83 million residents
- 3.1 million people with jobs
- $153 billion in annual wages
- $200 billion of annual revenue generated
- 34 Fortune 1000 companies
Each year, The Builders awards $8,000 in scholarships to YSU students. “It’s an extraordinary thing that you do for us,” President Tressel said. “Through our Foundation and groups like The Builders, we give our students an opportunity to graduate with as little debt as possible.”
The two-hour Builders membership meeting was held at Avalon at Squaw Creek in Vienna, Ohio, and included time for networking and a sit-down dinner prior to the program. Joining President Tressel to meet and talk with Builders members was the CEO of the Youngstown State University Foundation, Paul McFadden. The next membership meeting will be held in May.