YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Youngstown Business Incubator and Brite Energy Innovators in Warren will take part in an effort to establish an economic hub for green product manufacturing in the Upper Appalachian region and create a regional supply chain for the products, services, technologies and construction materials that comprise the green building industry.
The two Mahoning Valley incubators are among the entities participating in the Green Building Alliance, which was awarded a $500,000 planning grant by the Appalachian Regional Commission through its Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies – or Arise – program, according to a news release.
Arise drives large-scale economic transformation through multistate collaborative projects across Appalachia.
Match funding support will come from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, a regional philanthropy serving West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. The initiative will prepare Upper Appalachia – western Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio and West Virginia – to meet increasing regional and national demand in both the residential and commercial sectors for the products and materials needed to construct, renovate, maintain and operate healthy, energy-efficient, resilient buildings and infrastructure.
The one-year project will be conducted in partnership with West Virginia University, including WVU Extension and Vantage Ventures; Pittsburgh-based Catalyst Connection; and YBI and Brite.
The planning project will assess and map the current regional product and supply chain ecosystem, complete a comprehensive market study analysis and create a strong network with resources and strategies to advance this work to a full implementation phase, according to the release.
“Historically, the Appalachian Region’s economy has been based on extractive industries that produced the energy, buildings and infrastructure that built the country and strengthened economic prosperity,” Jenna Cramer, Green Building Alliance CEO, said in the announcement. “As national and international economies shift to cleaner, low-carbon products and solutions, the Appalachian region is well-positioned to forge a strong path forward in a way that honors that legacy,” Cramer said. “To do so we must first develop an innovative and interconnected ecosystem that addresses the products involved in the full lifecycle of existing and new buildings – from design, construction, renovation, operations and maintenance to deconstruction.”
In manufacturing, sustainable products and processes are “the next big thing,” said Barb Ewing, YBI CEO.
“Consumers are demanding products that reflect their values and are cost effective to adopt,” Ewing said. “The Youngstown Business Incubator looks forward to working with Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance and the other partners to make this vision a reality.”
YBI and Brite will look at Ohio’s resources, particularly in the Mahoning Valley, said Sara Daugherty, chief of staff at Brite.
“There’s a lot of interest around sustainable manufacturing and sustainable products when it comes to the building industry,” she said. “We really haven’t pivoted our region to look at this as an economic development tool, so this funding allows us to better assess what resources we have that we can leverage as corporation and consumer interest change, and they’re requiring their products to have zero carbon footprint.”