Prompted by the action of some Genoa Township officials, a number of local businesses are forming a new organization.

Prompted by the action of some Genoa Township officials, a number of local businesses are forming a new organization.

Genoa zoning inspector Joe Clase said township officials wanted to meet with local business owners to learn about the kinds of issues they face.

"We saw some turnover that was worrisome," Clase said. "Businesses were opening and then closing. We were interested to see if there was a way the township could assist them. We benefit from them being here, so we wanted to help where we can."

The business owners expressed interest in forming a group so local companies can promote each other, he said.

An exploratory meeting was held April 10 at Giammarco's Pizza & Pasta, 7097 State Route 3. The township has about 120 businesses. Representatives from about 20 businesses showed up, he said.

Tom Bernardo, owner of Giammarco's, said the association will be a very positive thing for the township.

"We have a strong core of small businesses in Genoa Township that are very unique with a variety of services and products and we have a great deal to offer," he said. "We bring a lot to the table and have a lot to offer the community.

"Our first objective is really to get to know each other better first of all, and determine how we can help each other and work together," he added. "Once we get organized, we want to better market ourselves to the Westerville and Genoa community and see how we can provide better service to them."

Janet Tressler Davis, president of the Westerville Chamber of Commerce, said Genoa's business association could partner with the chamber.

"We're exploring those possibilities and seeing how we can assist them," Davis said. "This could be a subset of the chamber."

The chamber includes a women's business group, a young professionals group and a small office-home office group, she said. "We have these subset groups to reach group members' needs. This fits right in."

"It's a good fit and we're just exploring the options and there seems to be a lot of energy in the township area. We want to help promote them and provide them services they might need," she added.

Those services include group-rate health insurance, group-rated workers compensation plans, reduced prices for office supplies and networking events, she said.

Bernardo supports working with the chamber.

"They're an outstanding, well-organized, well-established organization and I think we can pick off their strong foundation and be part of their team and then over time, establish our own identity as a unique business organization," he said.

"We feel it's important that the community supports local businesses, but we also feel its important local businesses give back to the community. Part of our objective will be to give back to the community in different ways through festivals and fundraisers -- anyway we can support the community," he said.

The association's next meeting will be held at LIFT Fitness, 6061 Chandler Court, Westerville at 7:45 a.m. on June 10.