In an effort to make improvements, city leaders in Columbiana welcomed an Iowa native who has a passion for helping small towns thrive.
Debra Brown is the co-founder of SaveYourTown, an organization that revitalizes small towns with creativity. Part of her process is fully immersing herself into the community.
“Learns from the community, gets to know the community and finds out their concerns and what they want to bring to Columbiana,” said city manager Lance Willard.
Brown stays with someone in the community rather than a hotel.
“I really prefer staying with someone that is committed to the community and can give me an insight into some other things that I might not normally see,” said Brown.
One local business owner said it is a no brainer to welcome some help.
“Any opportunity to learn from someone like Deb and to have an opportunity to improve our town with those kind of ideas, we’re super excited about it,” said business owner Robert Schwartz.
Brown sat down with community leaders and business owners on Friday to dive into their concerns.
“Small towns have generally a really strong sense of community and pride and history,” Brown said.
These are attributes that she suggests capitalizing on.
“Make sure that downtown is beautiful and vibrant and has lots of business and people parking cars and shopping and eating in the restaurants. That’s how we claim our downtown.”
Brown will spend the weekend to learn about Columbiana.
The Columbiana Progress Committee will be holding a community meeting on Monday at 5 p.m. at the Main Street Theater where Brown will give the city constructive criticism.
The visit is funded through a grant by the Ohio RCAP Great Lakes Community Action Partnership.