The headquarters of the Youngstown Business Incubator
THE REINVENTED RUST BELT CITY
People used to describe the depressed former steel mecca of Youngstown with battlefield metaphors—the city's unofficial motto was "Defend Youngstown." But a new economic strategy has reduced the need for such bellicosity: the "shrinking cities" model, used by once-mighty industrial centers like Pittsburgh to resurrect themselves, of cultivating only the industries that can move the city forward in its reduced circumstances. The nonprofit Youngstown Business Incubator has catalyzed this approach, investing in a portfolio of forward-thinking companies that range from software-makers to an environmental TV channel. YBI's leaders have job titles that evoke a Silicon Valley start-up, which is exactly the point, says chief imagination officer Tyler Clark, who believes his hometown is past its fight-or-flight mentality. His slogan? "Choose Youngstown."
FACT: The line "My sweet Jenny" in Bruce Springsteen's "Youngstown" refers to the Jeannette Blast Furnace, which produced 2.6 million tons of pig iron during its, er, glory days.