Johnstown Independent

From committee to commission

Johnstown leaders seek plan to spur growth


After proposing a $10 million business park and joining the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Johnstown is establishing an economic development commission in an attempt to help keep the community's development goals on the proverbial same page.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously during Village Council's June 3 meeting, establishes the creation of a 10-member panel who would try to represent the interests of a broad range of the village and outline a specific plan for development.

When council members discussed priorities after the election, economic development was at the top of the list. After establishing a three-person economic development committee on council (comprising Carol Van Deest, Cheryl Robertson and Mayor Sean Staneart), the group decided a larger scope is necessary.

"We've met a few times, and in conjunction with the idea of a new business park, (we have) all the questions that came from those discussions about who we're trying to attract, what we're going to build upon, what we need to improve upon and our strengths and weaknesses as a community to help lure businesses into the community," Village Manager Jim Lenner said. "We took a step back and said, 'To make sure everyone is on the same page, let's have a plan in place that we can follow after it's adopted and for the next few years to be sure everyone is on the same path.' "

The plan is to have the commission established by July and for that group to have a plan to council within seven or eight months. No additional costs would be associated with forming or organizing the commission.

Lenner identified key sectors council is targeting for commission members, including engineers, businesses and a Johnstown-Monroe school district representative.

"We want to be sure everyone is on board and we're looking at this plan from every possible aspect we could think of," he said.

A key to the group, Lenner said, will be to have it develop specific goals and steps that would be followed and maintained.

"It's not just a plan that's going to sit on the shelf and we look at it and say, 'We created a plan; now what?' " he said. "There are going to be actionable items that we'll follow up on."

The plan will be based on the village's "SWOT" (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and will take into account the village and the surrounding area, as well as a broader range of influences like MORPC and economic development initiative Columbus 2020.

"Based on that analysis, we'll come up with some action steps that we take," Lenner said. "We'll have immediate, intermediate and future goals to make the plan a reality."