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YSDC considers reconfiguration

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At the Yellow Springs Development Corporation’s, or YSDC’s, regular meeting in October, YSDC President Corrie Van Ausdal proposed establishing a committee whose responsibility would be “to plan and present a future configuration for the YSDC.”

The plan would involve potentially reconfiguring the current organizational structure. The options presented:  reorganizing from a CIC — the current structure of the YSDC — into a CDC, or “forming a CDC subsidiary to the present CIC.”

According to the Ohio Laws and Administrative rules website, a community improvement corporation, or CIC, is “an economic development corporation” whose purpose is to “advance, encourage and promote the industrial, economic, commercial, and civic development of a community.” As a CIC, YSDC is a quasi-governmental nonprofit that can purchase, hold and lease property; purchase stocks; and buy corporations. It can also borrow or loan money for development projects.

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According to the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations website, community development corporations, or CDCs, are additionally categorized as nonprofits. CDCs are generally established in communities that are struggling economically and are often focused on affordable housing. However, they are also structured to “meet local needs such as education, job training, healthcare, commercial development and other social programs.”

According to Van Ausdal, organizationally speaking, “there remains value to the CIC in getting the Village, the schools, and the Township together with the community foundation and local higher education folks. However, a CDC might be better positioned to get movement, especially if headed by someone who can recruit and coordinate volunteer groups.”

According to the meeting minutes, Van Ausdal said a CDC option might have a stabilizing effect on personnel.

“We turn over village representatives and elected officials regularly. The people at this table by nature are going to be changing and we spend time every year reorienting the membership to who we are and what we are building. We need a structure that will help us build something enduring like an apartment building,” she said.

Clifton mayor resigns from YSDC

Van Ausdal told members that she’d received a resignation letter from Clifton Mayor Alex Bieri.

In his resignation letter to the organization, Bieri expressed pleasure in serving on the board, and was highly complimentary of the leadership provided by Van Ausdal, but also wrote that he felt the current direction of YSDC wasn’t compatible with Clifton.

“Although many pressing issues exist, such as the fate of our post-industrial economy, the YS schools, affordability, et cetera, I do not see my role on the board representing Clifton as having an effective influence over these issues given their very broad scope. And so, rather than ‘spinning my wheels’ as it were, I have decided instead to step down and hopefully make way for others to pick up where I have left off, and to continue to create new plans and ideas for our future,” Bieri wrote.

In his resignation letter, Bieri also wrote that Clifton is open to the possibility of collaborating with YSDC on specific projects that are mutually beneficial for YSDC members and the Village of Clifton if they arise  in the future.

Van Ausdal said YSDC will seek a replacement for Bieri.

“We should follow up with the Clifton Council to see if they can send a replacement member as it’s in the YSDC bylaws to have a representative from Clifton,” Van Ausdal is quoted as saying in the minutes.

Clifton Crafthouse Co-op

Clifton Crafthouse Co-op Managing Director, Board President and founder Piper Fernwey provided an update to YSDC members about efforts by the co-op to open a commercial kitchen. According to YSDC meeting minutes, Fernwey informed members that the co-op received grants that included funds to complete a commercial kitchen in the organization’s recently opened “Creator Market at the Clifton Crafthouse Co-op,” a concept space located in a smaller building on the property.

To complete the space, Fernwey told the News in an Oct. 24 article that the Crafthouse received grants in the amount of $30,000 from ALOFT Dayton, and a $10,000 mini-grant from Hall Hunger Initiative for a shared commercial kitchen.

At the time of Fernwey’s presentation to YSDC, the kitchen was scheduled to open in the fall. The anticipated opening of the commercial kitchen is now early 2023.

The concept space is part of a larger Clifton Crafthouse co-op vision. Located just three miles down the road from Yellow Springs, it is part of a $2 million project that, when completed, will feature a taproom that will offer beverages from local brewers, community and performance spaces, an additional commercial kitchen and affordable housing.

Miami Township Trustee Don Hollister responded positively to information provided by Fernwey. “This could be a very big deal,” Hollister is reported to have said in the minutes. “A commercial kitchen adds value to our agricultural community.”

*The writer serves as development and special projects coordinator for Clifton Crafthouse Co-op but was not affiliated with the organization when the October YSDC meeting occurred.


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