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Community asked to share vision of Salem

SALEM — Residents, community leaders and business owners are going to be asked for their vision of Salem for an entrepreneurial initiative in the coming months.

Roberta Streiffert, a senior rural development specialist with Great Lakes Community Action Partnership, spoke briefly to Salem City Council recently about Salem being recruited into the entrepreneurial project, with the idea to grow and develop entrepreneurship as part of economic development.

According to the section on entrepreneurships on the agency’s website at www.glcap.org, “GLCAP entrepreneurial programs focus on building community capacity to harvest local talent and grow businesses from within. We work with local economic development professionals, business leaders, government officials and others to assess community needs and resources and develop strategies for entrepreneurial growth.”

Some areas already being looked at include housing, city demographics, the local economy, downtown aesthetics, art and culture and recreation. Areas also to look at include financial structures, social service organizations available, supply chains for people and improving education in the workforce.

Streiffert asked council members to start talking to people about the idea, with a plan to have meetings for visioning in the spring. She said the visioning is important to a successful program. She planned to put together a pamphlet to provide to council members and noted she’ll be working with Julie Needs, executive director of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, as liaison.

During a recent city council Economic Development Committee meeting, Needs gave an update on SOD Center activities for economic development in Salem and noted the much anticipated Economic Development Plan is in the draft stage and will be issued sometime in the second quarter.

“We’re looking forward to presenting a clear vision of Salem and economic development for the future,” she said.

She also touched on some successes in the downtown according to figures from Town Center Associates, a firm that had been helping with promoting development in the downtown and helped council with the tracking of businesses, vacancies and adoption of the vacant building ordinance and the International Property Maintenance Code, noting that both violations and vacancies appear to be decreasing. She did say she received calls recently from people looking for space in the downtown and some vacant buildings aren’t available for lease.

She talked about the training center and said some job fairs are coming up, with one on March 25 geared to manufacturing and one on April 22 for the health care field. She also talked about The Cave, a darkened room in the facility used for team building activities.

During council’s last meeting, city council approved the mayor entering a partnership with Columbiana County to update the existing Columbiana County Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is necessary to getting help when there’s an emergency. City council’s Traffic & Safety Committee met briefly on the subject and recommended the resolution be forwarded to council for the partnership.

Parks Director Shane Franks was appointed to an unexpired term on the Salem Tourism Board after the resignation of Audrey Null.

City council meets at 7 p.m. today in council chambers at city hall.

mgreier@salemnews.net

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