CW studies development

Frank responses by a focus group on economic development in Canal Winchester are helping the village establish a baseline for future development and related marketing efforts.

During meetings on Oct. 16 and 17, comments and opinions were solicited from Chamber of Commerce representatives, attorneys, county and village administrators, and developers. Canal Winchester Development Director Chris Strayer updated council members on focus group findings on Oct. 20.

According to Marie Keister, Engage Communications, and Christine Vineis, Capital Partnerships-who facilitated the discussions-each group had a unique perspective, with one person’s ideas and "comments feeding off another and allowing for a robust discussion and wonderful feedback on a wide variety of issues: "Canal Winchester is really a city, although it is not recognized as such. When it attains that status in 2010, it will lose grant dollars. There is a need to plan ahead for that. Mayor Ebert acknowledged that such planning is in progress. It was suggested that Canal Winchester reach out to other villages transitioning to city status to find out what challenges they are facing."

While looking at industry within the area, the focus group said Canal Winchester has an outstanding workforce, which is a development asset the village needs to better promote. Participants also cited proactive developer outreach, quality of life, growth management, leadership, light industrial/manufacturing, regional involvement, and realistic goals as positive aspects.

"They thought we really did a great job of leveraging the resources we have," reported Strayer. "They complimented the mayor several times on his leadership and council’s leadership. Everybody said we’re doing a great job right now in our area, but we need to get out there on a regional level. We need to be more proactive in the region. One of the comments was we need more direct linkage with planning and zoning with council or put a council person on planning and zoning."

Welcoming new business at all levels, reconsidering the village’s retail mix, sharing the vision at all levels, and pursuing more office development were also themes the focus group suggested Canal Winchester further address.

In addition, tax credits, refining messages linking incentives to targets, more aggressive marketing, and creating a catalyst fund were areas of future consideration recommended by the pair of panels.

"The last thing we want to see is another Brice Road in our community. We want sustainable development, said Strayer. "We want to really refine that vision and get it out there."

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