Licking County is doing a lot of positive things economically, but it needs to stick with them, according to Zac Menzer, a Granville native and Kalamazoo College multimedia major.
Menzer's senior thesis is a video documentary showcasing Licking County and community leaders who discuss the status of the community, present changes being made and expectations for future growth and development.
Menzer's video, titled Reviving Newark through Community Capitalism, is the centerpiece of the Licking County Community Capitalism Presentation from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 24, at The Works: Ohio Center for History, Art and Technology, 55 S. First St. in Newark. The presentation will be hosted by the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, the city of Newark, the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority and The Works.
"The video is about 50 minutes in length, and covers Newark's economic history, how community capitalism got to Newark and what it's done while it's been here," Menzer said. "I interviewed (former) Mayor Bob Diebold, current Mayor Jeff Hall, COTC's Dr. Bonnie Coe, The Works' Marcia Downes and many more business and community leaders."
He said his two passions through college were business and media, and each Kalamazoo graduate is required to complete a senior thesis.
"Late sophomore year, I decided that I wanted to do a documentary film for my (senior thesis) and have it be about some kind of business, therefore bridging the gap between my two interests," Menzer said.
As Menzer began researching topics, he was presented a copy of the book Community Capitalism: Lessons from Kalamazoo and Beyond by Ron Kitchens, Dan Gross and Heather Smith.
"The reason this book was handed to me is simple," he said. "Ron Kitchens lives in Kalamazoo and Newark was trying to implement this model. That was the starting point for the project.
"Through this whole process I realized just how long economic revitalization takes. Ron Kitchens said that we are planting a tree where we will never enjoy the shade. That's for the next generation."
Menzer said the video's content is "showing the seeds" and trying to speculate about what may or may not happen.
"I believe that we, Newark, are setting ourselves up for success, but we have to keep with the program. The problem with long-range programs is that the next person in charge may not agree with what has happened in the past and may try to change or end community capitalism."
Downes, The Works' managing director, said Menzer is no stranger to the science center in the county seat.
"(Menzer) has volunteered at The Works during his high school and early college years so I thought it would be fun to bring him here for this viewing. He is a great young man," Downes said.
She said this presentation is also an opportunity to celebrate new initiatives that have improved Newark's downtown and perhaps other parts of the county.
"There are not many Midwestern downtowns adding new buildings," said Downes. "I believe it's a result of a strong private-public partnership."
This screening is free. To attend, RSVP to Downes at 740-349-9277.