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Youngstown Business Incubator Appoints New CEO


Today the Youngstown Business Incubator held a press conference to officially announce Barb Ewing as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI). The process has been 12 months in the works.

Barb Ewing joined the YBI as its Chief Operations Officer in 2011 after 8 years as the Economic Development Director to Congressman Tim Ryan. Prior to that she held a position as VP of Public Policy for Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber.

“I am so very honored,” Ewing said about the appointment. This change is an evolution for her. Ewing thanked the board members, the YBI’s supporters, and her team saying, “Any organization is only as strong as its weakest link and I can say in all sincerity that we don’t have one.”

Ewing believes that the YBI has helped be a beacon of hope. “I think we make a difference everyday in the Mahoning Valley and Northeast Ohio,” Ewing stated.

According to James Yukech, the CIO of Youngstown State University, who does consulting services for the YBI, selecting Ewing as the successor of Cossler was a simple decision. With Ewing as COO, the YBI has gone into a direction which helped it excel. UBI Global, who heads up selecting the world’s best incubators, presented challenges on how the YBI could grow. Ewing embraced those challenges and took YBI down a path beyond entrepreneurial endeavors.

Although Ewing has been with the YBI since 2011, her history with its founder and CEO, Jim Cossler, extends beyond that. Cossler has been a big force in Ewing’s life. When Ewing began her career out of college, she felt she had little experience to market herself.

“Jim was my very first boss,” Ewing said, “He hired me right out of college when I was a very young, fresh liberal arts major from Kent State University with nothing on her resume to speak to why I would be a good employee or any practical experience that would make me a valuable employee. But, he saw something in me and was willing to give me a chance. Really I don’t think anyone else would have.”

Cossler has a habit of taking on the seemingly impossible. Ewing quoted Miguel de Cervantes to describe him: "In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd."

When Cossler set out to bring the YBI to life, no one believed it would work. “We took this long, abandoned furniture store, when nobody believed or almost no one believed, and set out on a journey to build this modern five building camps that you see today,” Cossler said. The disbelief didn’t stop there, nor did the perseverance of the YBI as they sought to launch the fastest growing software company in the country. It did not waver when they set out to attract a $70 million innovation center, America Makes, in competition with the rest of the country. Their persistence continued when they had their eyes set on becoming the number one university affiliated business incubator in the world.

Jim says he saw something in Ewing and was right. After the Better Business Bureau hired him in 1989, he requested they hire her as well, and they did.

“His belief in me has made all of the difference in my life,” Ewing says.

Cossler will stay onboard as a Huntington Bank Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR), and looks forward to continually dedicating himself to assisting area entrepreneurs in growth.

Ewing has plans to continue the development of world-class entrepreneurs and promote economic development in the region. Her short term goals for the YBI include investing in opportunities for the Valley Growth Ventures. Long term goals include attracting and cultivating additive manufacturing in the Mahoning Valley with domestic and international prospects. Already the YBI has begun a relationship with Israel. This goal will furthermore continue by growing the Northeast Ohio Additive Manufacturing Cluster, dedicated to growing additive manufacturing throughout all of northeastern Ohio.

“The universe has finally organized itself in a way that was meant to be: ‘Missy Bossy Pants’ is finally in charge,” Ewing joked. Although the Cossler and Ewing team is shifting once again, Ewing plans to keep alive the values of Cossler’s attention to detail in everything the YBI will do moving forward. As Cossler has always practiced, the details - no matter how small - show how much the employees care about the company. It is that quality which has helped the YBI grow from a half million-dollar venture with two employees to a $2.5 million organization with 10 employees.

“I think our very best is yet to come,” said Cossler. “Barb Ewing will confidently lead us there. She is going to take YBI to heights never imagined. I know that, and I’m just going to sit back and be her biggest fan.”

We agree and we cannot wait to experience the exciting direction this new leadership will take the YBI, Youngstown, and Northeast Ohio. 

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Youngstown Business Incubator Appoints New CEO, Barb Ewing