Although tough economic times have dried up some funding for Marysville's Uptown Renewal Team's newly created manager position, URT vice chairman Dennis Schulze said the group is committed to retaining a full-time manager for the revitalization of Uptown.

Although tough economic times have dried up some funding for Marysville's Uptown Renewal Team's newly created manager position, URT vice chairman Dennis Schulze said the group is committed to retaining a full-time manager for the revitalization of Uptown.

The URT hired Gretchen Friend as its first full-time manager last August, through funding from the city of Marysville, the URT and the Union County Economic Development Partnership (UCEDP).

City budgetary problems will put an end to its portion of the funding. According to city administrator Jillian Froment, Marysville provided $18,248 in 2009 specifically for the URT manager position. No funds for the position were included in Marysville's 2010 budget.

Schulze said the position is too important to eliminate after only one year.

"We know that the city is not committed to any further funding because of the financial situation, which means that we have to get some private donors," Schulze said. "We have been meeting to establish a plan for that. We've had a lot of corporate interest in the viability of the heart of the city, and we think we can, through private donations, continue the existence of the manager position, because we feel it's vital to what we're doing. We really need someone full-time to coordinate those efforts."

Established in 2004, the URT is a division of the UCEDP. The group is dedicated to revitalizing Marysville's Uptown district by encouraging new business opportunities and building re-use and rehabilitation.

As Uptown manager, Friend is in charge of managing the daily operations of URT revitalization efforts, including coordination and implementation of policies and projects of the organization.

Shulze and economic development director Eric Phillips said that the position is paid approximately $30,000, plus some bonuses that are built in.

"We definitely want to continue the URT manager position, that's a task we have to do," Phillips said.

The manager also serves as an advocate, spokesperson and ambassador for initiating, coordinating and implementing the uptown development program, which uses the Main Street program process of four classic principles: organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring needed to successfully carry out the revitalization of Uptown Marysville and sustain its viability.

Before Friend was hired last year, the URT relied on volunteers and staff from the Union County Chamber of Commerce to implement its projects.

Keeping the URT manager position in operation also extends the usefulness of those volunteers who were previously handling those tasks, Schulze said.

"Having a full-time Uptown manager is not only beneficial to Marysville, but the fact that (Friend) has been able to take over has freed up (former Chamber volunteers) to work more with Plain City. This is an effect that could be good across the board."

lrice@thisweeknews.com