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Council eyes economic plan

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Village Council members at their April 2 meeting heard a review of the recent Economic Sustainability Plan by several members of the Village Economic Sustainability Commission.

Just having a public discussion on the economic plan is a positive first step, according to Judith Hempfling.

“One reason for the Economic Sustainability Commission was to bring economic development dialogue into the public sphere,” Hempfling said. “It has already accomplished that.”

The topic was discussion only. Council will officially vote on the plan at a later date.

The plan, whose first draft was presented to Council on March 5, grew out of about a year and a half of work by the commission, according to Council member Karen Wintrow, who was a Council representative to the group. After the group was first formed in the summer of 2010, it took some time to stabilize membership, but since that took place, “it’s been a great group, very hard-working,” she said.

The plan presented to Council on March 5 was a general outline of goals, along with some action steps, according to ESC member Ellen Hoover. It aims to address Council goals and is intended to be most relevant to Village employees, Hoover said.

The final document will also include a marketing plan, created by Wintrow and ESC member Megan Bachman, and a task plan, which will cover the “heavy lifting,” according to Hoover, with specific action steps tied to specific groups or individuals.

The Economic Sustainability Plan can be accessed online by going to the Village Web site,, then clicking on Council, then March 5 packet.

In her review, Hoover addressed criticisms she has heard of the plan. While some have criticized the plan’s proposed collaboration with regional and state economic development agencies, those agencies “have resources that we could use. We think we should take advantage of them,” Hoover said. Some have called the plan too negative in its statements that the village needs to overcome an anti-business bias along with zoning problems, she said, stating group members included those points because “the problems need to be acknowledged.” However, she emphasized that this segment of the plan is only intended for use by Village employees, and the marketing aspect of the plan, which will have a wider audience, will have a more positive focus. The group is also addressing criticism that the plan includes redundancies by having it edited.

Hempfling also took issue with the plan’s assertion that the village has an anti-business bias.

“I think people are very well informed that we need business in the community,” she said. “I don’t believe we are not business-friendly.”

In citizens’ response to the presentation, Christine Roberts, who has developed her own economic development plan for Yellow Springs, repeated an earlier criticism that the plan “is still missing the biggest pot of gold that we have.” That “pot of gold” is a focus on local strengths, Roberts said, which she believes the plan ignores by its emphasis on regional collaboration.

Yvonne Wingard urged Council to work hard to expand the local tax base to ease the current financial burden on villagers. She and her husband will be moving out of the village because they can’t afford to live here anymore, Wingard said.


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