Youngstown still needs a Municipal Events Coordinator

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The city of Youngstown is always in need of a town events coordinator and some believe filling the position will improve businesses and more.

The position of Downtown Events and Citywide Special Projects Coordinator has been vacant for over two years.

“This person and this role is a critical champion for small businesses. His role is defined as marketing and promotion, and spreading the word and coordinating some of the most impactful things that bring people to our community,” said Derrick McDowell.

McDowell is the founder of the Youngstown Flea, which draws thousands of people downtown each month. He applied for the job and had several interviews. However, after sending emails, letters and asking for updates in person, he says he has received no response on the current status of the hiring process.

“This position has been vacant for two years and four months, it’s astronomical. Imagine any other company where there was no one to champion conversation, communication and coordination for two years and four months,” he said.

The former event coordinator was elected by the city council in early 2020. At least 10 people have applied for the position since it opened.

Initially, a hiring committee was set up to conduct the candidate interviews, and they would refine their suggestions. The shortlist would be sent to the mayor to make a decision.

A person on the committee told First News that she had whittled down the list and sent it to the mayor over the past two weeks.

“This position is so important to the city, it is something that should have been filled, directly after the last person left,” First Ward Councilor Julius Oliver said.

McDowell says he understands many events have been canceled due to COVID, but he thinks that stance could have benefited city residents even during the pandemic.

“Things like vaccination clinics and helping spread the word… We do things in the community like drive-through baby showers, the health department works in many ways, our parks departments try to organize events in public spaces,” he said.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Councilman Oliver asked Youngstown Mayor Tito Brown about the position and his status.

“All the questions you raised are great questions councillor, they are questions you could have asked me before this. I would have had a better answer for you, I will get back to you on these questions,” said Mayor Brown in response to Oliver at the meeting.

Oliver says he feels it’s hard to communicate and get answers.

“I asked relevant questions, I asked questions that made sense, they were easy to understand and I just feel like the answer should have been easy,” Oliver said.

Several businesses have moved out of downtown, leaving Youngstown altogether, citing slow traffic as the main reason. McDowell thinks filling the position would help that.

“We don’t see how directly all of this is connected, but we have to start seeing it,” he said.

We contacted the mayor, who was unavailable for an interview, but told us that the position would be filled soon and that they would choose the best candidate who met all the requirements of the job description.