Annual program benefits communities, businesses, and local economy
Youngstown Business and Professional Association eyes return of street dance
By Terry Duffy
As COVID-19 slowly drifts into history, the Youngstown Business and Professional Association has set its eyes for the future.
YBPA announced it is the recipient of a $3,474 matching grant for 2021 provided by the Niagara County William G. Mayne Jr. Business Community Enhancement Grant Program. A presentation was held last week at Porter Town Hall, where YBPA received its award from 1st District Niagara County Legislator Irene Myers. YBPA is among the 18 business associations throughout Niagara County that applied for and was awarded funding for this year.
“These associations operate at a grassroots level across Niagara County to promote business through projects that enhance their local business districts,” said Legislator Rich Andres, chairman of the economic development committee. “Now, more than ever, as we emerge from the pandemic, we need to get behind efforts that bring people to main street businesses, so we are thankful to have the Mayne fund to do that.”
YBPA President Cheryl Irish Butera credits assistance from this grant program for enabling YBPA to weather the storm through COVID-19.
“Because we were able to use last year’s grant money to create a new website and YBPA email address, we survived COVID through technology,” she said. “Of course, no in-person meetings since January 2020, but we did hold Zoom meetings with our board members. …
“So much loss and change, but finally our country is on the mend. Good news for all of us who one year ago were on total lockdown. Now we prepare to get back to some kind of normal.”
Myers praised the Mayne grant for helping spur the Niagara County economy.
“Big thanks to our fundraising partners at (the) Niagara Falls Bridge Commission for making the William Mayne 25th enhancement program possible for another year,” she began. “The program’s founding father was William Mayne, and William had the idea for a program that would encourage our businesses to enhance their communities, with the goal to draw more visitors and repeat business. And in the end, help grow our local economy.
“(This) has evolved into the William G. Mayne Jr. Business Community Enhancement Program, which is now 24 years old and going strong. The Youngstown Business and Professional Association has been one of the more active participants in the program since its inception, working hard to beautify and promote the Village of Youngstown to the world. We’re so proud to have them in the Town of Porter.”
Butera said, “This is the most we have ever gotten.” She noted the grant funding enables YBPA to pursue a number of improvement initiatives to benefit the Village of Youngstown. “We will be ordering brand-new USA flags as well as brand-new Village of Youngstown logo flags that line both Main Street and Lockport Street, as well as in front of the village offices. … We have needed new replacement flags for a very long time. Our hope is to have them on display by Memorial (Day) weekend.”
Butera said the funding would also allow YBPA to replace a number of holiday snowflake decorations that brighten up the village during the holidays.
“The original lights were also purchased by YBPA, but they have been showing wear and tear for the last couple of years as well,” she said.
Butera added the new snowflakes will be larger and in color, as opposed to the traditional white.
Still another project the Mayne grant provides funding for is YBPA’s “Welcome to Youngstown/Town of Porter” informational brochures that are distributed throughout the River Region.
“These brochures are complete with all the businesses and organizations and events within the Youngstown area, including parts of Ransomville,” Butera said.
Myers expressed her appreciation to the Niagara County Legislature and to its economic development committee for providing this program. And she went on to praise the YBPA for its sound organizational structure as a business chamber.
“I applaud you guys for all the businesses and the people who participate in the Youngstown Business Association, because … you guys have a nice support group; it’s nice that you all work together and it just goes to show that you can accomplish many things,” she said. “It’s nice that you guys are all so active and participate.”
Butera closed by reporting the YBPA remains hopeful for its popular “Here Comes Summer” street dance to return to Main Street. She said YBPA has tentatively scheduled the event for Thursday evening, June 17, and is hopeful for a favorable decision by state and local officials.
“Depending on guidelines from the state of New York and local officials, the much-loved street dance is (still) up in the air at this time,’ she said. “Whatever is decided, it will be done with the best advice and guidance (available) for any outdoor event.”
For more on the YBPA and its activities, visit www.youngstownnewyork.com.