National Main Street partners with Heritage Ohio in Appalachia entrepreneur development


COLUMBUS – Main Street America and Heritage Ohio are launching Ohio Entrepreneurs: Supporting Place-Based Small Business Development on Main Street, a new statewide program focused on entrepreneurship in Main Streets in Appalachian Ohio.

Ohio Entrepreneurs is made possible through support from PNC Bank, the Marion Ewing Kauffman Foundation and the Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking at the Brookings Institution.

Over the next three years (2020-22), Main Street America, Heritage Ohio and other partners will help local community leaders in three Ohio Appalachian communities (Cambridge, Coshocton and Martins Ferry) to develop and sustain new entrepreneurial growth through an informed market and place-based approach that focuses on implementation through local capacity building and cultivating a local entrepreneurial culture.

In each of the three communities, Main Street America and Heritage Ohio will work with a local partner: Cambridge Main Street, Our Town Coshocton and Project Forward, respectively.

“We are excited to work with our state and local partners in Ohio to help grow and sustain entrepreneurial growth on Main Street,” said Matthew Wagner, vice president of revitalization programs at Main Street America. “For 40 years we have demonstrated the impact of our work in downtowns across the country and now are excited to incorporate our place-based approach to cultivating and supporting entrepreneurs in Appalachian Ohio.”

Through a combination of assessments, strategy identification, asset mapping, trainings and research, Ohio Entrepreneurs offers a place-based, tailored approach, focusing on each community’s needs, strengths and unique market position to determine strategies and implementation plans.

Ohio Entrepreneurs also will focus on research and case study development, tracking the effectiveness of the place-based approach in the three pilot communities, as well as what successes might be adapted in other Main Street communities.

Joyce Barrett, executive director at Heritage Ohio, said she is “looking forward to working more closely with the National Main Street Center, here in Ohio. What is going to be interesting about this project is that these three communities have participated at different levels in the Ohio Main Street program, moving them forward will require different approaches.”

Ohio Entrepreneurs will help connect local community leaders to the resources and expertise of a variety of statewide and national partners, including the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association, the Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia, CO.STARTERS and more.

Ohio Entrepreneurs will start with on-site visits in each of the three communities in late winter/early spring 2020.