In her inaugural meeting as president of the Northland Community Council, Alicia Ward renewed her commitment to having the consortium of civic organizations promote local businesses.

Speaking at the council's March 6 meeting, Ward also said she wants to bring greater attention to what makes the Northland area special.

"We have such a wealth of diversity here," she said. "We have stores and restaurants here. It's like you stepped into another part of the world."

Ward, former NCC vice president, was elected president in February following the appointment of former president Emmanuel V. Remy to fill a Columbus City Council vacancy.

Ward also spoke of touring the Reeb Avenue Center on the south side of Columbus, which has a day care center, after-school programs and on-site social workers to help families in crisis.

The Reeb Avenue Center seeks to build self-sufficiency through opportunities and to transform lives through education, job training and local job growth, including entrepreneurship, according to the nonprofit operation's website.

Ward said the center boasts a restaurant with healthful food choices and an affordably priced grocery store, both operated by the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, as well as a variety of job-training and placement programs through the Godman Guild.

She said she believes the Northland area could benefit greatly from having something like the Reeb Avenue Center.

"It's a long-term goal, and it won't be something that happens overnight," she said.

The challenges, Ward said, are that city, state and federal funding sources that might pay for a community center generally require matching funds.

In addition, the Reeb Avenue Center is located in a large former school and Ward said she is not aware of a similar building available in Northland.

"I'd appreciate all the help I can get on that," she said.

Also at the March 6 meeting, newly installed Secretary Alice Foeller announced that her neighborhood, Strawberry Farms on the eastern edge of Northland, will be involved in the Neighborhood Pride program.

The program is a team effort among city departments, neighborhood groups and individual residents, businesses, schools and other partners to make neighborhoods safer and cleaner, the city website states.

Foeller said her civic association applied for the program in 2017 and missed out. This year, she said, longtime Pride coordinator Bruce Black attended the association's February meeting to surprise those in attendance with the announcement.

Strawberry Farms was one of four neighborhoods in Columbus, out of 20 that applied, to receive the Neighborhood Pride program, which will include social events to bring neighbors together, safety information, code enforcement and more to help clean up and improve the neighborhood, a posting on the neighborhood's Facebook page stated.

Foeller said the dates for the weeklong "laser focus" of city services on her neighborhood had not yet been determined.