Embedded Community Experience in Columbiana, Ohio
Visit by Deb in February 2019.
Columbiana, Ohio is a small town Deb visited in February 2019 for an Embedded Community Experience. 6,400 people live in the town Harvey Firestone called home oh so many years ago.
- One focus was on the downtown area because there quite a few empty storefronts.
- One owner of several buildings wanted to make downtown more entertainment focused, more places to eat and drink and be entertained, less retail.
- They have three areas in town for retail, it’s called the Triangle. Downtown, Firestone Park and DutchHaus eating and shopping.
Lance Willard, city manager and Tom Mackell of Firestone Farms accompanied Deb to most of the activities and visits. There were several other residents, business people and organizations that got involved as well.
In the past year, Columbiana has made leaps and bounds in their pursuit of becoming a friendlier town. Here are just a few of their results.
- All of the buildings downtown are filled, except one. There are more restaurants than antique stores, and the antique stores that are there have created an inviting place to come experience their wares.
- Firestone Park is now a vibrant shopping and eating area, and the stores are all filled. It used to be an empty, forlorn piece of land on the edge of town.
- A local real estate developer offers free rent for a year to entrepreneurs who don’t have the wherewithal to get started. This is a town that believes entrepreneurs are the new inventors and innovators.
- One local woman donated 4 million dollars to the park for perpetuity. The park is done, with 6 waterfalls. It was a muddy hole in the ground a year ago. This park is located one block from downtown. Now visitors can eat, drink, shop and relax in this welcoming park.
- Columbiana was nominated by a citizen as the Nicest Place in Ohio. It was a contest where people had to vote to win. During every summer and fall event there were booths set up in the middle of the party where people could vote for their town. They did win the title Nicest Place in Ohio. Then they went on to be judged by a panel for the nicest place in America. They won that too! https://www.rd.com/nicest-places-contest/
- Hallmark voted Columbiana the 19th nicest place to celebrate Christmas.
- TOP 10 Advertising voted Birdfish Brewing Co. as the seventh best bar and pub in Northeast Ohio. Dutch Haus Bakery is #1 bakery and Salon Anthurium made top #1 salon. The salon just recently opened, and their loyal customers brought them to first place.
This community took to heart all the conversations Deb started when she asked them what they wanted. One suggestion was to take pride in their town. They now realize they are responsible for sharing that pride with others. The townspeople are actively involved in their community, and make the magic happen.
Welcome to Columbiana, an Idea Friendly Town.