“Almost everyone one I talk with has a memory of what the downtown used to look like depending on how long they have lived in Washington Court House. We cannot recreate that picture we have in our memories, but we can have a better downtown than we have now.”
Those are the words of Chelsie Snively, newly hired economic development director for the City of Washington Court House.
“Positive things were happening with bigger businesses and smaller ones starting up even before I was hired in October,” she said. Snively left Fayette County 10 years ago, obtained her marketing degree and worked for a major business. She decided to return to her roots to raise her children. “It has been very busy, no dull moments, lots to do, many people to meet.”
One of the major projects Snively has been involved in has been the certification of the city’s Industrial Park. According to Snively, “With certification, the park can be showcased as ‘move-in ready.’ When a big company makes the decision to move into Washington Court House, they might ask for this or that to be available for their operations. With certification, it is already available at the site. This certification mostly centers around utilities: plumbing and electricity. Very shortly the city will be announcing the certification through Jobs Ohio and through the DP&L job site website. This certification will make Washington Court House only one in a dozen locations in Ohio to be ‘move-in ready.’ The competition for industrial parks to be ‘move-in ready’ is very close to our borders. At least one county bordering on Fayette has an industrial park already certified.”
Bringing big business to the Industrial Park is another way to lure smaller businesses to the downtown. Snively has been busy meeting with downtown business owners and starting to build those relationships that will enable the city to take all the diversified ideas and create a new downtown of economic growth.
“This will all take time. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon,” she said. “Every resident should be doing their part in this marathon by shopping locally when possible. Another way to help develop the downtown is to be aware of the events taking place downtown and participate in them. Stores can decorate or offer specials, but if the community does not take advantage of what local stores are offering, nothing grows. Every effort you make helps your vision of the downtown grow.”
Another issue of economic growth is the size of the local workforce. Not only are there fewer businesses in the downtown, the local workforce has also diminished. People may live here, but they are working in other counties. Snively will be delving into how to increase the local workforce as the months progress.
Shares Snively, “There are many perspectives on bringing the downtown back and they all have the same goal: a better downtown. I am excited to see how it progresses in the next year.”
If you are a small business owner, or would like to be, and you would like to talk with Snively, call the Washington Court House Administration Office at 740-636-2340.