The Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce, together with the Community Resources board and the soon to be dissolved Community Information Project, plan to establish an umbrella organization to become “the new economic authority in the area” by January 1st, 2008. This is the bottom line of a proposal that Community Ressources member, Dan Young, presented on behalf of the three boards at a Village Council meeting on Tuesday.
In addition to seeking approval to establishment the Alliance by 2008, Young and co-signers to the Alliance proposal, CoC vice president Ellen Hoover and CIP representative Ron Schmidt, ask the council to allocate recently raised economic development funds to the amount of $250.000.
“It’s multi-year spending. And its primary purpose is finding someone who can spend half time, maybe full time, promoting economic development in the village.” commented, Glenn Watts, member of CR on Wednesday…
The alliance attempts to attract more businesses from out of town to Yellow Springs, as well as promote viability and growth opportunities for existing businesses, that would stop them from relocating elsewhere.
If approved by the council, the new board, under the name Yellow Springs Alliance, would solidify cooperation between the three existing boards, whose membership in the current situation partially overlaps. “If it would come together the way people suggested,” says Watts, “it would be an alliance rather than a consolidation,”
At the Tuesday meeting, Village council member Judith Hempfling, welcomed the initiative, if opened up for discussion to a wider constituency. “This is the kind of proposal that could spark a creative discourse. If this is a draft document that is basically welcoming input, alternative ideas, additions, deletions…about how to spend $250,000 of public monies over 5 years, then great,” she explained. “But if the view is that this is pretty much a finished proposal and that the council should quickly make a decision on giving money to it, then I’m not for that.”
Hempfling identified the Arts Committee, Smart Growth Task Force and Antioch College, amongst others as parties that should be included in “longer discussion.”
According to Young, representation had already been given to the arts and the college through alliance membership of Mary Campbell-Zopf of the Ohio Arts Council and Antioch University officials Glenn Watts and Toni Murdock, respectively.
Watts, a former CFO of Antioch university and current construction project coordinator, was co-founder of the Community Resources board in 1995. Murdock, though invited to join the planning of the alliance, is not guaranteed a seat on the new board that will be meeting four times a year.
In regard to the position of Antioch College within the village, Watts commented: “[The College’s] survival, whether it stays open at this point or reopens in four or five years, it is critically important to the Yellow springs community, both economically and socially and culturally. So anyone that is concerned with economic development in Yellow Springs has to be concerned about the future of Antioch college.”
Though he said he could not speak for a Board that has not been formed yet, he personally would not oppose direct representation of the college on the Board a future Alliance.
“It seems right now that the college is so busy with him own survival that it seems like there isn’t anyone with the to involve in larger issues of the village, but once things stabilize for the college I would certainly favor having a representative of the college joining the board.”