Northland News

Northland Alliance

Leaders looking for 2014 progress on top goal: starting nonprofit mall

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

In looking ahead to 2014, Northland Alliance Chairwoman Joyce Bourgault is hoping to make headway in achieving the organization's most ambitious goal.

Bourgault, executive director of the Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center free clinic, developed a plan through a series of Nonprofit Summits dating back more than two years to find a location where agencies based in the neighborhood and those that serve residents can share space.

She's calling it the Northland Nonprofit Mall.

"It's still moving forward," Bourgault said recently. "It's just a lengthy process. You have to get your people together.

"When you're getting eight organizations together and trying to develop an LLC (limited liability corporation), it takes some time to put that planning together and put the funding together. It's going to take a few years, but that's OK.

"We're still planning to make that a big push this year to get the business plan written so we can go out and present our case to more people," she said. "We're getting encouragement from different resources."

To help advance that dream, Bourgault said she plans to convene another summit session, perhaps by the end of January. She wants to bring in people from other parts of Columbus and possibly elsewhere in the state or nation where similar concepts have been considered or established.

"We are expanding our scope some to bring in more advisers on the board, to take a look at getting a different perspective from outsiders as to how we are doing in our revitalization of the Northland community and what direction we need to be going," Bourgault said.

In particular, Northland Alliance board members are hoping to increase involvement from the business community and perhaps Ohio State University, Bourgault said.

"We're excited about that," she said. "You get stale after a while and you really want to get a different look at things.

"We're still trying to keep people in touch with each other and talk more about this collaboration project."

That's where the January meeting comes in; a date has not yet been chosen.

Another focus for 2014, according to Bourgault, will be revitalizing one of the community's main commercial corridors -- East Dublin-Granville Road.

This effort will definitely require the commitment and participation of the business community, Bourgault said, including many of the out-of-state property owners who in the past have resisted efforts to establish a special improvement district along the section of state Route 161 from Interstate 71 east to Cleveland Avenue.

That was the approach taken, along with government funding sources, for improvements to the Morse Road business corridor.

"We were successful on Morse Road," Bourgault said. "We just have to do the same thing on 161."