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Dec
07
2022

Changes expected at Yellow Springs Development Corporation’s annual meeting

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As a relatively new nonprofit organization, the Yellow Springs Development Corporation, or YSDC, will hold its first annual meeting Tuesday, Feb. 8.

During the meeting, which will be conducted through the Zoom online platform, the group will vote to appoint new leadership, accept new members and adopt the 2022 budget, in addition to addressing its regular monthly business. The general public is welcome to attend.

Some significant changes are anticipated, as Lisa Abel, who has been the group’s president since its inauguration in early 2020, is stepping down from that position, and Vice President Lisa Kreeger, one of two representatives from Village Council, has said she plans to “cycle off” YSDC this month. Council has named local resident Gary Zaremsky to replace her as a designated voting trustee.

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In addition, two new representatives of the school board will be joining the group, as previous district representatives Steve Conn and Steve McQueen no longer hold office. Newly elected school board members Dorothée Bouquet and Amy Magnus have been named to fill the district’s two YSDC seats.

The quasi-governmental organization also intends to change its bylaws to add a yet-to-be-named second member of the community at large. Realtor Shelly Blackman is the single current community rep.

“It’s a lot of change,” Corrie Van Ausdal, a Miami Township designee, said during the group’s regular meeting in January.

The YSDC, formed to help coordinate and enhance economic development in the village and Greene County’s Miami Township, currently includes 11 voting members and five nonvoting ex officio members. The voting members are made up of two members of Village Council, or its designees; two members of the school board; two representatives of Miami Township Trustees; the mayor of Clifton, or his designee; a representative of the Yellow Springs Community Foundation; a representative of the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce; a representative of Antioch College; and a member of the community at large. Ex officio members include the superintendent of schools, the president of Antioch College, the executive director of YS Community Foundation and the Village manager, or their designees. The Chamber of Commerce director, a position currently unfilled, has also served on the YSDC in an ex officio capacity.

Setting priorities

Following up on a discussion in December about the group’s goals and priorities for 2022, Abel reported at the January meeting that she had received 12 responses to a YSDC member survey she put together listing 13 ideas that had arisen over the course of 2021. They were:

1. Develop and provide community education on taxes: new, renewals, timing.

2. Identify needs and space for living wage business incubation, expansion, retention.

3. Lead development of CBE’s remaining parcels (Village owned).

4. Lead development of Railroad Street property (Village owned).

5. Seek funding sources for economic development and create grant-ready templates.

6. Actively participate in regional economic development activities.

7. Coordinate a symposium on education, capitalizing on our key strengths and provide grant dollars for a start-up from this effort.

8. Create a community bread oven (like pottery shop’s shared space and equipment).

9. Explore potential opportunities at Antioch College for real estate that could be used for economic development (Antioch College owned).

10. Identify ways to actively support local foods and other ag-centered economic development.

11. Create a Holiday Market similar to European Holiday Markets.

12. Include housing development as part of YSDC’s mission.

13. Identify ways to better market local assets, especially small or start-up initiatives.

The three points that rose to the top were: seek funding sources; development of the land familiarly called the CBE, or Center for Business and Education; and development of business incubation, expansion and retention.

Alex Bieri, Clifton’s mayor, said he accepted the importance of the top-three identified priorities, but also was disappointed that the holiday market idea hadn’t received more than tepid support.
Chamber of Commerce representative Sarah Courtright said she thought the market idea was something that could easily fall under the Chamber’s umbrella, and she intended to bring it up at that group’s next meeting.

Abel asked for volunteers to form three sub-committees to separately consider each of the three identified top priorities, with plans to continue discussing them at the Feb. 8 meeting.

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