Liberty Township: New CIC expected to 'improve cultural and economic well-being'

Jim Fischer
ThisWeek

While looking for new ways to engage township residents and businesses during a pandemic, Liberty Township officials said, they kept running into walls.

The solution, after some research, brainstorming and advice from the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office, was the formation of a community improvement corporation, commonly known as a CIC.

Liberty Township sign, as shown March 21, 2020.

Trustees on Feb. 16 formally approved the creation of the Living in Liberty CIC. 

A CIC, per Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1724, is a nonprofit organization that local governments may create to facilitate economic-development activity.

Fiscal officer Rick Karr said he hopes to do just that while also offering new services and events to the community.

“We were trying to work on some community events during the pandemic, just things to get people outside, such as a 5K or a health expo, things that would be beneficial to all the residents of the township,” Karr said. “We kept encountering legal issues that were tough to figure out. A CIC can be an umbrella organization that allows for the kinds of private-public partnerships we were looking to do.”

Karr said he sees the CIC performing traditional economic-development activity in the township, as well as creating opportunities to promote community among township residents. 

“We’ve got the space to do some things and provide a benefit to our residents and to promote this area of central Ohio,” Karr said. “The CIC is a driving force to be able to do those things, to improve cultural and economic well-being.”

“This provides a tool to do community improvements, partnerships for events, park enhancements and drive smart growth,” trustee Shyra Eichhorn said. “The city of Powell already has one established and has used it to do great things in this community.”

A CIC opens doors to certain kinds of sponsorships and grants, Karr said, allowing the township to help drive such activity without utilizing tax revenues.

“It allows us to obtain working capital to put on events and programs while not using township tax dollars,” Karr said.

For example, Karr said, the township has considered approaching the Columbus Symphony to host one of its community concerts. He said a summertime concert of some kind -- although not necessarily with the symphony -- is one of the events on which officials are working now that Living in Liberty is in place. 

He also said he is in preliminary discussions to host a balloon festival at South Liberty Park in the fall.

Karr said a $25,000 grant awarded by the Delaware County commissioners is an early win in the CIC’s ability to advocate for the township and its residents.

“When we want to have these kinds of activities that find us partnering with other organizations, now we have the right framework in place,” Karr said. “The CIC will be a great benefit to everybody in the township.”

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