Officials, residents discuss economic growth

Wellsville residents converged Wednesday afternoon at Village Hall to discuss the Ohio Rural Community Development Initiative grant, which looks to bring economic development into the village and assist current businesses and new businesses. (Photo by Steve Rappach)

WELLSVILLE — Several members of the community took time Wednesday afternoon to hear about plans and brainstorm some ideas to bring economic development and potential growth into the village of Wellsville.

A dozen community members gathered in council chambers at Village Hall to discuss potential economic development as with the Ohio Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and is handled by the Ohio Rural Community Assistance Program (RCAP). The seminar was open to all residents who expressed interest in building the community and looking to increase business throughout the village.

The purpose of the RCDI grant is to support a two-to-three year process which will engage locally-led planning to determine the ideal direction of the community’s local economy as well as provide special assistance for local businesses and entrepreneurs on a long-term basis, and is no cost to the village to participate.

RCAP representatives Ben Kenny, Roberta Streiffert, Deb Martin and Innovation Economy Partners economic advisor Hrishue Mahalala were on hand to inform the community and answer questions about the program.

Those in attendance varied in professions, whether working for the village (Mayor Nancy Murray, Council President Randy Allmon, Village Administrator Jerry Medley, former administrator Rick Williams), had previously served on the Wellsville Board of Education (Karen Dash), presently serve on community boards (Dawn Johnson), are retired, currently own a business or properties, or in one instance, in high school (Wellsville junior Ryan Miller).

Many mentioned Wellsville as their hometown, saw it as friendly and close-knit, and also see untapped potential in the village.

Kenny mentioned that the RCDI representatives will work with those interested in working on the village’s RCDI steering committee, which would consist of 12 members that would be willing to work for a few hours a month, along with a core group that would put in a couple hours on a weekly basis.

“The emphasis is to get the community to start think entrepreneurally, and to think about their entrepreneurs and the businesses here and the potential for new businesses here because what better way to increase the revenues coming into the city than to fix the tax base as well,” Kenny said.

Currently, as Mahalala mentioned, Wellsville is one of eight municipalities currently involved in the RCDI grant, and as time progresses, the Wellsville RCDI committee would be able to work with other participating communities in the state–including Toronto, Sebring and Columbiana to name a few–with plans to be able to grow together and also get the word out to communities.

“The beauty of this program is that we get to work with eight communities at the same time, because then you could sort-of borrow ideas from one another and apply them to each other so that you could sort-of lift the tide together,” Mahalala said.

Another RCDI meeting is being planned with a date and time to be determined, and more members of the public who are interested are invited to attend.

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