New CIC will focus on downtown Newark only
A new public-private community improvement corporation will focus solely on downtown Newark.
It will be used not only to attract businesses, but also to ensure Newark's infrastructure, from streets to electrical and sewer lines, is equipped to handle new businesses, Licking County Chamber of Commerce President Cheri Hottinger said.
"Newark Development Partners CIC is a separate, new organization, which is a partnership between the Licking County Chamber of Commerce and the city of Newark," she said. "It will focus on the redevelopment of downtown Newark as one of its first priorities."
Hottinger said Park National Bank CEO Dan DeLawder and local developer Jerry McClain are the principal drivers behind the new organization. DeLawder is CIC chairman and McClain is vice chairman.
"This CIC is very different from the Grow Licking County CIC, which focuses mainly on industrial development throughout the county," she said.
McClain said the Newark Development Partners CIC is more interested in attracting service businesses, such as retail and offices, as opposed to manufacturing or industry.
Hottinger said that during the CIC's first meeting June 13, the group decided to meet the second Wednesday of each month at 8 a.m. in the McConnell Board Room in the lower level of Park National Bank main office in downtown Newark.
Hottinger said the new CIC is a long-term project.
Instead of immediately recruiting as many businesses as possible, CIC members will take a hard look at Newark's infrastructure, such as street conditions and utilities, and develop a plan to improve it, beginning with the area surrounding the Licking County Courthouse square in the center of town.
"It's a big undertaking," she said, adding that Lancaster took 10 years to implement its plan. "It's not something you can rush into overnight."
Once the infrastructure improvements are in place, Hottinger said, it will then be the CIC's task to determine what types of businesses and services downtown Newark needs to attract more people.
The Newark Development Partners CIC isn't the first organization to try to improve downtown Newark, but Hottinger said she believes it will be the most successful because it is a private and public partnership with funding coming from both government and business sources.
"This is different from what's been tried in the past," she said.
Hottinger said CIC officers and board members are in place and the organization is ready to begin work. Hottinger is the CIC's secretary and Newark Service Director Dave Rhodes is its treasurer.