A grassroots effort that got rolling earlier this year concerning the betterment of Greenfield is still rolling toward the ultimate goal of the village becoming the place to be.
It started with a group of residents revisiting an economic plan by the Greenfield administration in 2009 that was never really acted on. So they got together earlier this year and fine-tuned that plan some, narrowed its focus, set new goals, and then invited the community to come out to two meetings in May where specific goals were laid out with the input of everyone who came to participate.
The whole point of the group, informally called Grow Greenfield, is to “encourage and support efforts to grow Greenfield economically and culturally,” as well as to, in a general sense, “improve the quality of life” for all those who call Greenfield home.
On Thursday the coordinating group met, which it does each month. That group includes Greenfield residents John Adams, Phil Clyburn, and Shari Royse-Bellar, as well as Greenfield City Manager Ron Coffey. Also a part of the effort is Myra Moss of the Ohio State University Extension offices and economic development consultant Bill Grunkemeyer. Both Moss and Grunkemeyer have been involved from the beginning and are offering their expertise to Greenfield for no charge.
The monthly meetings, Adams said, are about the coordinating group coming together to brainstorm and “figure out how we get to the next hurdle.”
In April, Adams and Royse-Bellar spoke to the Greenfield Rotary Club about the initiative, and in May two meetings were held in which residents were encouraged to attend and offer their ideas.
Adams said on Thursday that those meetings were “very productive” and there was a good turnout. He said there were ideas taken from those meetings that will “move us forward.” Also examined in those meetings was into what area of interest those involved could put their efforts. “We want to play to people’s strengths, to what they are interested in,” said Adams.
And from those meetings came the group’s focus on the areas of economic development, Greenfield becoming a destination/tourism spot, and the revitalization of the downtown area. And while the group is still exploring various initiatives and possible funding sources, “actionable plans” have been identified.
One of those is the promotion of Greenfield’s industrial park, now called South Central Ohio Industrial Park, and the goal of it being certified with the state, and therefore much more visible to prospective businesses. It is something that the Highland County Board of Commissioners has been working on for some time with the Greenfield park as well as the industrial park in Leesburg.
More of those plans include expansion of the bike path, supporting civic improvements, implementing a driving tour of Greenfield, applying for the Scenic Waterway status of Paint Creek, supporting community-based organizations, partnering with local government and agencies, among other things.
On Thursday the group met with Heritage Ohio. According to its website, heritageohio.org, Heritage Ohio is “Ohio’s official historic preservation and Main Street organization.” The organization “fosters economic development and sustainability through preservation of historic buildings, revitalization of downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, and promotion of cultural tourism.”
“We want successes that will play out readily,” he said. “Ultimately, we want this town to grow.”
Grunkemeyer said that the group’s efforts are “giving new enthusiasm, new goals” to what was begun in 2009 with the initial comprehensive plan. And the whole process, he said, will take time to figure out.
Moss said it was important to show successes early on, adding that the May meetings were successes to be counted and represented residents coming together with a shared vision.
“I think we all feel pretty good about what we’ve done so far. It’s been a labor of love,” Adams said. “It’s still a work in progress, but we are building a good foundation.”
Anyone interested in becoming a part of the grassroots effort can call Phil Clyburn at 513-600-6555, John Adams at 937-763-0674, or Shari Royse-Bellar at 937-981-3956.
Reach Angela Shepherd at 937-393-3456, ext. 1681, or on Twitter @wordyshepherd.