A Community Vision by Yellow Springs Development Corporation • The Yellow Springs News
The Yellow Springs Development Corporation, or YSDC, spent a lot of time in its first monthly meetings this year discussing the possibility of limiting its scope to three, or even just one, goal for 2022.
Those conversations took a different turn this spring, however, when the group’s recently elected president, Corrie Van Ausdal, suggested that the nonprofit expand, rather than shrink, its focus, in an effort to create a shared community vision. During the YSDC meeting in March, she proposed that in undertaking this effort, the group consider at least four additional areas that affect economic development: infrastructure needs in the village and township, changing demographics of the community, the effects of climate change on the region and the future of work in general.
YSDC vice-chairman Alex Bieri, who sits on the board as mayor of Clifton, said he agreed an expansion of the group’s focus would be worthwhile, noting that the pandemic has accelerated changes in who works and how they work, which will affect future economic development efforts.
“We are seeing a changing of the guard as a lot of people are retiring,” he said, adding that at the same time more people were working from home and retail sales were moving more. more online.
Amy Magnus, one of the school board’s two representatives on the YSDC, suggested that establishing a mentorship program could respond to changing demographics and the “changing guard” that Bieri noted.
Van Ausdal said the cultural centers in the village have also changed – Antioch College, for example, no longer has the same influence as it once did. Additionally, she noted a “drop” in local volunteering, which will affect the launch of new programs in the community.
“Engaging people and developing interdependence is essential to our health and well-being,” she said.
Kevin Stokes, one of two village council representatives appointed to the YSDC, said controversy within the community is a growing concern and likely affects whether people volunteer or sit on government commissions or councils. . He suggested that YSDC members consider an effort to make volunteering or community service more appealing.
“Create the expectation to contribute and be the change,” he said.
Miami Township Administrator Don Hollister, one of two members of the township’s economic development group, wondered if the vision discussion was driving the YSDC outside of its established parameters.
“Society needs vision, but it also needs focus,” he said. “It’s not a culture center; our schools and churches fulfill this role. The company should focus on economic development.
Dorotheé Bouquet, the other school board representative with Magnus, said she thought it would be helpful to “look at where people are congregating and where the energy is now” in deciding what projects the YSDC could pursue. .
“Having a discussion about what other CDCs [community development corporations] doing will inform our strategy,” she said.
The group’s former president, Lisa Abel, who represents the YS Community Foundation, said updating the group’s strategic plan would be helpful, with “scenario planning” helping to “organize around a vision of possible futures.
Van Ausdal confirmed his intention during the last YSDC meeting on Tuesday April 12, conducted via Zoom.
“We are going to reflect this year on developing a common vision for the future,” she said. To that end, she said she will “bring in guests who do interesting things and provide vital services.”
The guests she had invited to speak on April 12 were Mike Montgomery, executive director of Friends Care Community, and Thor Sage, executive director of MVECA (Miami Valley Educational Computer Association).
Montgomery spoke about the housing and care needs of the “aging baby boomer population,” while Sage’s presentation touched on the technology-focused infrastructure resources provided by his company, which recently purchased the former Antioch Publishing building at 888 Dayton St..
Both said finding enough staff is a challenge for their separate businesses.
“If we don’t have staff, we won’t fill the beds,” Montgomery said of the care facility.
“We are continually looking for people,” MVECA’s Sage repeated, adding that he planned to attend the May 7 job fair scheduled by the Chamber of Commerce. He noted that he is the only Yellow
Springs resident among his company’s current 40 employees.
A more detailed look at each company’s current situation will be covered in an upcoming issue of the News.
In other YSDC business on April 12:
• Abel reported that the group’s subcommittee focused on finding grants for local businesses is exploring Greene County’s grant finder software and also met with Piper Fernwey of Clifton Crafthouse about the possibility of supporting this effort .
“It’s a big project with a lot of arms,” Abel said of the planned co-op.
• Bouquet said she has explored other community development corporations and what they can do. She noted that Cleveland has between 30 and 40 separate CDCs, with projects ranging from running senior housing to supporting an LGBTQ theater to providing assistance to seniors.
She suggested that the YSDC conduct a comprehensive survey of commercial and mixed-use buildings in the village and township, particularly noting facilities that are underutilized.
Eric Henry, attending the meeting as director of the Greene County Department of Development, was enthusiastic about the suggestion.
“It’s a fantastic idea,” he said, noting that it’s difficult for him to direct businesses to a community when he doesn’t know the availability of space.
Bouquet cautioned that she couldn’t lead the project, as she currently co-chairs the work of the school district’s facilities committee.
“It’s a great idea, but no one has the bandwidth to undertake it,” Van Ausdal said.
Stokes asked if YSDC could partner with another agency, like the Chamber of Commerce or the Downtown Business Association. Bieri agreed that the work does not need to be done by a YSDC board member.
•Jeannamarie Cox, Executive Director of the YS Community Foundation, who sits on the YSDC as an ex-officio member, reported on the foundation’s annual meeting earlier in April. She said a new area of focus is individual staffing needs, particularly around gaps in social services that provide food and shelter.
She said a donor provided a matching grant of $500,000, with the foundation and community to contribute $500,000 each for a total of $1.5 million to start a universal basic income program.
The effort would provide additional income over a specified period of time, Cox said. This will also help meet the needs of the homeless population of the village, who have no support from local social services.
• YSDC members, who have met via Zoom all year, have agreed to meet in person in May with the stipulations that there is “a good option” for those who cannot physically attend, that there is a check-in method organized and someone is monitoring COVID numbers.
“I can’t wait to come back in person,” Hollister said. “I think we underestimated the impact [of] being distant. I think there’s great value in being in person – the casual things that happen when you walk into the room. I am sad to say that it has affected the civic discourse in the community.
The day and time for the May meeting was later confirmed at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3 in the Miami Township Fire Station meeting room.