Clintonville's active business community is on the minds of local leaders as they look ahead at 2017.

Clintonville's active business community is on the minds of local leaders as they look ahead at 2017.

The new year will bring a new benefit to members of the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce, said President Jenny Smith.

Starting in January, a room at the chamber's offices at 11 W. Cooke Road will be available for members to meet with customers and clients. This would be of benefit to businesspeople who work out of their homes or "have a cubicle in Dublin or Hilliard," but whose main focus is on folks in the Clintonville area, Smith said.

"A lot of our people are independent contractors," she added.

The free office space for members whose dues are up to date would be available during business hours; they'd have to sign up in advance.

Wi-Fi is available in the chamber's offices.

"That's our big, exciting thing," Smith said.

Another new addition to the chamber's offerings, she said, will be a young professionals networking group, to be launched in February.

"I think that will work," Smith said. "We have a real enthusiastic group."

Clintonville Area Commission District 4 representative Judy Minister, a real-estate agent, sees both positives and negatives in the coming year.

"My biggest concern ... is the number of storefront vacancies in the (43202) ZIP code," she said, referencing the part of Clintonville south of North Broadway.

Minister noted the Begley Upholstering Co. will relocate in the spring from 3293 N. High St. and that the former Glass Thimble at 3434 N. High St. has been vacant for at least four years. In addition, the long stretch of storefront that opened up in the same section of North High Street when Midwest Photo Exchange moved to larger digs on Silver Drive remains unoccupied, Minister said.

Things are cooking, however, in another section of Clintonville's business district.

"I see resurgence in business in the (43214) ZIP code," Minister said, referring to Clintonville north of North Broadway. "I see some nice things happening in '17, but I'm kind of concerned about the blight issues."

"We will be facing some development in the coming year," CAC Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt wrote in an email. "Some of the development we have been notified of and I'm sure there will be new things happening that we don't know about yet.

"We all love Clintonville the way it is. However, if a city or area of a city doesn't change, it goes backward or atrophies," Wetherholt said.

"None of us want atrophy for Clintonville. So we all need to work together to find out how to change and remain the vibrant community it is. Remember, we are all neighbors. So let's talk and find out what we would like to have happen."

Jason Meek, the District 7 representative on the area commission, said he looks forward to 2017 bringing about full implementation of Blueprint Columbus, the ambitious project to use an array of techniques, including rain gardens and porous pavers, in Clintonville to eliminate sanitary-sewer overflows during rainstorms. He also said he anticipates the area commission will continue to have a "general interest in commercial development."

"I think we'll have a good deal of involvement in keeping the citizens up to date on those," Meek said.

"Because Clintonville is not its own governmental agency, we have to work harder to maintain our identity within the city of Columbus," Wetherholt wrote.

"Take this coming year to look into our many community groups who help make Clintonville great, from school groups to charities to business groups, and pick one for you to become involved with. You'll meet neighbors of like minds and goals and maybe have a bit of fun in doing so."

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1