COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – We see things every day in our communities that could use improvement — sidewalks, a downtown area, even alleyways.
The city of Columbiana wanted an alleyway revived to be more inviting to people who live there. They turned to high school entrepreneurship students to figure out how.
Two brick walls, blacktop and four picnic tables are what you’ll find right now in the Columbiana alleyway downtown. It’s located next to Columbiana Nutrition on Main Street.
But to a group of high school students, it’s more than that. The alley is a way to leave their mark on the community by turning it into the Columbiana Corridor.
“We wanted to find a way to make the alleyway hospitable to the people of Columbiana and we definitely wanted to make it really nice so it’s something people from Columbiana to be proud of,” said student Daniel Wilczak.
It’s part of an entrepreneurship class at the high school, where students are given a real-life scenario that a business faces and are challenged to figure out how to improve it.
“We actually teamed up with the city this year and the students this year are now working with the city to revitalize an alleyway. They came up with ideas and suggestions,” said teacher Tricia Missos.
It wasn’t just coming up with those ideas, it was presenting them in front of city leaders. Some of the ideas they had were charging stations, restaurants, a fountain and furniture with heating.
“Not too many times do you get to do a class project where you’re so involved with the community and you’re doing so much to change your community around you,” Wilczak said.
This is the first year those ideas are more than a concept and are being implemented.
The city isn’t sure which ideas they will use, that will depend on the budget. To start, the city was awarded $23,500.
There’s no set timeline for the alley, but Mayor Rick Noel says you can expect to see changes soon.
“Believe me, we wanna move fast. We hope by summer some of the things that they’re gonna be recommending to us today, we’ll start putting into place,” Noel said.
For the students, it’s planting roots in the ground they grew up on.
“Hopefully, someday, I can take my kids through Columbiana and show them something that I was a part of to make it better,” Wilczak said.