CORTLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of Cortland is looking at new ways to revitalize its downtown area. So, the city brought in a nonprofit out of Columbus that specializes in rebuilding communities. Wednesday night, a community meeting was held to take the first step into making the downtown area better.

The city started looking at some of the issues along Main Street, one being the 50-60% vacancy.

“We would also like to bring in some more small mom-and-pop shops. Whether it would be a book store, somebody that can do sewing or mending or tailoring, or a cobbler,” said Cortland Mayor Deidre Petrosky.

Heritage Ohio is a non-profit that works at rebuilding downtowns. The city brought them in to see if they could help. They gave a presentation to about 55 residents of Cortland about how they do this.

“At the core of it, it’s really about rebuilding your community to have an endearment to your downtown,” said Frances Hamilton with Heritage Ohio.

They sat out the basic plans with what they call a four-point approach. Economic vitality, which is building relationships with businesses. Design is more based on how it looks.

“We need to bring our exteriors of the buildings, we need to improve those,” Petrosky said.

Promotion is about getting people to want to come downtown. Organization is focused on writing policies and planning. Committees will be formed around these ideas.

“So we want a building owner, a business owner, someone from your library, someone from your school, a person with the city, an elected official, a homeowner,” Hamilton said.

Heritage Ohio will perform a study to figure out how these committees can make the downtown area better. Then, a one-year plan will be made.

One area Hamilton hit on was changing residents’ mindsets of their downtown area.

“When we’re at home, we notice every little, tiny, terrible thing about our communities,” Hamilton said.

“I feel very confident moving forward that we’re going to be able to really do some good work here,” Petrosky said.

Those with Heritage Ohio say they will provide assistance along the way.