New website offering, expanded brochure to debut this weekend
By Terry Duffy
Like many who have weathered the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the Youngstown Business and Professional Association was forced to take a step back, with cancellations of a number of community favorites and a refocus on its priorities.
That refocus has resulted in an exciting new presence in the community, marked by YBPA’s debut of an attractive new website this weekend to coincide with release of its expanded “Welcome to Town of Porter 2020-2021” brochure serving the northern Niagara Region.
Mark and Cheryl Butera of the YBPA report the new website, www.youngstownny.com, which is going live this weekend, marks a whole new chapter for the community-oriented business organization that will enter its 45th year of operation in 2021.
“We go back to 1976. It was formed by a group of local businessmen in Youngstown,” Mark said of YBPA’s beginnings. He said the business organization formed and became part of what was known back then as the Lewiston Business and Professional Association, which came into existence in the late 1950s. Today, that organization is known as the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce.
“So what happened is when the (older) chamber was formed, the municipalities – Youngstown, Sanborn, Ransomville and Lewiston at the time – they were all part of the four groups that founded the chamber. Each of the municipalities back in those days contributed money to support the chamber,” Mark said. “So, the Youngstown Business and Professional Association has always been around. It’s been a standalone organization, but because Youngstown was part of the original group of the chamber, and we did so much” for the community.
YBPA introduced its annual informative brochure, which it developed at the urging of the late Neil C. Riordan who served as a Village of Youngstown trustee and later as mayor.
“The brochure, actually the Village (of Youngstown) did this brochure, and Neil came to us (asking), ‘Will you do this? We’ll help you; we’ll provide some support.’ We said, ‘sure!’ ” Mark said. “So, it became a cooperative effort with the village and that led into our tie-in.”
Noting YBPA’s longstanding relationship with the chamber, Mark continued, “We’ve always had a board seat, a seat at the table. We still do. Stephanie Cattarin, our board member, also sits on the board of the chamber. That is kind of how the connection goes.”
Turning to the new website, Mark and Cheryl said YBPA’s link here also comes from the chamber, which has owned the site with YBPA owning the domains and the webcam overlooking the lower Niagara River at the Youngstown Yacht Club.
“The upside of that was the YBPA back in those days bought the domains – (www.youngstownny.com and www.youngstownnewyork.com). So, we’ve always had those domains,” Mark said.
“We would contact Jennifer if we wanted to update, change anything,” Cheryl said. “She had rights to it. … Well, starting this weekend, the brochure goes out and the website goes live, (and) our board will have the rights to add (photos, articles and information) to it.
“We winged it in a lot of ways, but we never had YBPA email, now we will. So we’ll have our own email; we’ll have our own website; we’ll have access to updating it, upgrading it.”
The new website was developed by Matt Villnave of Lewiston Digital, thanks to funding the YBPA received from William G. Mayne Business Community Enhancement Program and the Town of Porter.
“It will be more outward-facing; including a members’ directory, promotions of Youngstown, its history, its story,” Villnave said.
“The grant program likes when the organization who’s applying for the grant can partner with other groups and government agencies in getting the program done,” Mark said. “The Town of Porter is helping us financially as a partner (for the website and brochure); the YBPA (contributes) funds and the William G. Mayne Business Community Enhancement Program grant is providing a big share of it – 50% actually.”
The website, “It will showcase Youngstown, the community, the Town of Porter, this complete brochure will be available on it. And importantly, every member, business member, will be listed, with their clickable links. It’s a complete interactive, user-friendly website. When they’re available, there will (even) be Facebook links,” Mark said.
Other features include the webcam and email availability.
The other exciting news coming centers on YBPA’s all-encompassing brochure. Originally planned for release earlier this year but delayed due to COVID-19, the brochure, titled “Welcome to Town of Porter – Open for Business,” represents the business association’s expanded focus into the lakeshore community of northern Niagara.
Both Cheryl and Mark spoke with enthusiasm as they discussed its new features.
“I’m rather proud of two things – ‘Open for Business’ (on the cover), like it’s a stamp. ‘Open for Business’ – we’re gonna’ do this!” she said. “The #YBPA Strong for All is linked to (our brochure, website). Even if you are not a member, they’re in here. Everything (Youngstown-related and more is in here).”
“The thing that is also important to mention is we list/support your local businesses,” Mark said. “So, YBPA members have stars (in the brochure), but there are a lot of people (listed) who don’t have stars. We do try to include anything that is appealing or could (be of) service to a tourist, to a visitor to this area.”
“To someone camping down at 4-Mile or to sailors, they need to know (where to shop, dine, get things) in Youngstown, Porter, Ransomville,” Cheryl said.
“It’s not all-inclusive … our members of course are here, but there are (also) hundreds of other businesses (listed),” Mark said.
Among the businesses are both new and familiar names, including Skydive the Falls, Ransomville Speedway and Niagara Jet Adventures.
“They’re all featured, whether they belong as a (YBPA) member or not,” Cheryl said.
Recalling how YBPA developed the brochure, she continued, “We have about 80 members, so each board member got 20 businesses to contact and confirm with, get their phone numbers, websites, (whether they are) still in business – those kind of things, so that’s how we did it, we broke it up. So, the board members have been working together (to reach out) to communicate as best we can. Then we triple-checked (all the details before printing).”
“We’re all part of the Town of Porter,” Mark said.
Discussing the brochure’s schedule of events, Cheryl said, “Sadly, we couldn’t have our Street Dance this year. That was one of those things that couldn’t be (like a number of others).”
Instead, YBPA is including those events as highlighted “must do’s” in both its brochure and website.
Looking over the brochure, Cheryl continued, “That’s next year’s Street Dance, that’s next year’s Summerfest. … We started with September through December of 2020, and rather than (listing) dates for the events, we (included the events) and we put all the available websites (of each event)” for readers to check out at their leisure.
“Here’s what normally goes on, and may go on, but you have to check,” Mark said, as he scanned the brochure. “We decided to keep on going all through 2021. So, everything is by date heading, but the specific (event) date with the exception of the Street Dance and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade don’t have actual dates assigned to them.”
Mark said YBPA’s shaping of the brochure’s event listings was intended to “provide a sense of normalcy – a bridge” for readers.
“And hope for the future,” Cheryl said.
Noting the Street Dance theme, she said, “We’ll have more fun in 2021.
“I think as we look at it, it is something to be proud of,” she said. “This way, residents, business owners, will see that the YBPA might be quiet (in 2020), but we have not gone away.”