News and Notes from
Janet Haar, Executive Director

Did you think COVID would still be the #1 concern in 2022? 

Welcome to the ‘now normal.’ 

Those of us who oversee building relationships, memberships, planning programs and events for our organizations are acutely aware that having a Plan B for everything we do is essentialThe “What if?” question is now even more critical in our planning functions.

Nevertheless, we ARE planning. Planning to do what we do best – focus on our mission to provide leadership, services, and advocacy to advance and promote the sustainable growth and prosperity of the Oberlin community. And to that end, we are pleased and fortunate to announce the installation of four new OBP Board of Trustees members. Jenn Keathley, Executive Director for OberlinKids; Robert Ulmann, owner of Bistro Bella Luna; Jessa New, owner of Slow Train Cafe and The Local; and Sharon Pearson, Lorain County Mobility Manager and past Oberlin City Council member. See below for more information from our new board members.

OBP is a membership organization. We depend on our members for their financial contributions, and just as important, for their ideas and participation in the programs, events, and services that are designed to strengthen our business community and to bring people to Oberlin to shop, dine, invest, and enjoy – to help our small businesses compete and thrive.

We plan programs and develop connections to resources to help our small businesses operate more efficiently including securing cost savings on things like health care, workers’ compensation management, shipping and energy costs, and to learn how to manage and promote their businesses more effectively. 

We are partners, collaborators, coordinators, and advocates
for Oberlin’s small businesses.

In 2021 OBP put together a Downtown Stakeholders group to gather ideas for increasing support for downtown businesses. We started by looking at their vision for the future – what they wanted downtown to be. We then gathered ideas on how to get to their vision.

These were some of the ideas that were generated:

  • 2nd Saturdays in Oberlin

  • Increased promotional opportunities. We realized that without a local newspaper and any other consistent promotional avenues, OBP needed to step up and create more promotional opportunities
  • 2nd Saturdays’ postcard and the Holiday Shopping postcard delivered to all Oberlin households,
  • holiday shopping ads in the Elyria Chronicle and the Lorain Morning Journal,
  • increased posting and sharing on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

  • Strong advocacy for downtown businesses. A ‘Wish List for the City’ was created and we are pleased that the City listened and stepped up to form a Downtown Stakeholders Group and position Diane Ramos, Communications Manager, as the City's downtown liaison. We look forward to collaborating with the city to make downtown a center of community and economic prosperity which enhances the civic, cultural, and economic vitality of the entire community.

  • We continue to work with downtown businesses through our Downtown Vitality Committee chaired by OBP Board member Tanya Rosen-Jones. We welcome input and ideas.  
Program and Events Updates from
Maureen Simen, Programs Manager

Holiday promotional activities took on even more urgency this year. We stepped up our promotional work when it became clear that Covid would continue to impact shoppers’ behavior.

  •  We ran three separate ads highlighting downtown Oberlin businesses, two in The Chronicle-Telegram and one that was repeated three times in The Morning Journal. Two ads were run at no cost to OBP members.
  •  Press releases were sent to all area media markets
  • We promoted shopping in Oberlin with posts on all social media sites.
  • We shared local businesses’ posts and events on social media.
  • Businesses were given posters and fliers to display in their windows and entrances.
  • A flier including holiday promotions and events was delivered to every household in Oberlin.
  • SHOP SMALL SATURDAY - November 27 - Santa visited at 29 S. Main St., future home of Haven Brewery. He met with families to hear their Christmas wishes, and each child got a treat and a Beanie Baby to take home. He even took time to wave at passing motorists!
  • Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt Contest brought out the die-hard searchers and got folks into stores on December 11. However a tough decision was made to cancel the downtown caroling organized by OCS Choir teacher Bronwen Fox because of the intense winds and freezing temperatures.
  • Our fourth annual Holiday Shopping Passport Contest was a great success! The contest ran from November 27th through December 29th. To be eligible to win a $25 gift certificate, people shopped or dined at least 3 businesses and turned in their passport at Ginko Gallery or Ben Franklin’s.
  • 74 shoppers submitted completed passports, with signatures from 24 downtown businesses!
  • Business with the most passport signatures were Ginko Gallery, Ben Franklin’s, and Carlyle’s Gift and Flowers.
  • Shoppers were primarily Oberlin residents, but visitors from Franklin, Huron, Portage, Ashland, and Cuyahoga counties and from States including Maryland, Virginia and Illinois also participated.
  • Winners were contacted by phone and posted on social media.
  • To build on our success and make sure the contest is working better for our businesses we sent out a feedback survey. To complete the survey, click on this link: Holiday Shopping Passport Feedback Survey 

  • OBP helped to keep money circulating in Oberlin with our $5 for $50 holiday gift certificate promotion. 
  • We sold and contributed nearly $12,000 in Oberlin Gift Certificates. Folks purchased them to say thank you to mail carriers, sanitation workers, volunteers, employees, and, of course, gave them as gifts.

Oberlin Businesses - Let shoppers know you accept Oberlin Gift Certificates
with our new sign for business entrances.
Contact Maureen Simen at to get your sign.
Good Morning Oberlin (GMO) takes off for 2022 on February 10th and continues on the 2nd Thursday of each month through 2022. GMO offers you an opportunity to network, learn, and share each month. It is the only comprehensive gathering of businesses, organizations, individuals, and government representatives in Oberlin. It is a great way to keep up-to-date with what is going on in Oberlin and how you can participate.

You can register for one or all of the meetings here:

It's not too early to register for Leadercast SHIFT on April 21, 2022. Join us in a venue filled with participants engaged in conversation, sharing ideas and experiences. We look forward to an exciting day of networking and professional development, featuring stories from area business leaders on how they shifted during these challenging times.

Director, OberlinKids Community Collaborative
23 Eric Nord Way, Suite #9
Tell us a little bit about your business or profession.  OberlinKids is a collaboration of organizations and individuals dedicated to developing solutions to ensure all children in Oberlin enter school healthy and ready to learn. We work hard to ensure the whole family has what they need to ensure their child is successful because if a caregiver's needs aren't met, their child's needs are less likely to be met. OberlinKids is one of the ten collaboratives powered by the United Way of Greater Lorain County. All our programming, events, milestone questionnaires, and literacy materials are free and every family with children from birth to kindergarten entry in Oberlin is welcome and encouraged to register for our On Track for Kindergarten program at regardless of income, need, or concern. Our goal is to have EVERY child in Oberlin ages birth to kindergarten active in our awesome collaborative!

Tell us a little bit about you – your interests, passions, etc.  I love being at home with my husband, son Logan (20), daughter Mikayla (10), and two dogs, Timber and Bailey. I enjoy doing creative/crafty things, cooking big meals, and spending time with friends. I help coach my daughter's softball team and spend a lot of my time at my daughter's sports and other extracurricular activities. I am passionate about helping people and building relationships based on trust with my clients.

Why did you volunteer to be an OBP Board of Trustees member? And what are you hoping to achieve by your involvement on the board? I am so grateful for all the community-wide events that are offered in Oberlin. OberlinKids participates in many of them each year and I am hoping to collaborate with OBP to make them sustainable and to help alleviate some of the burden that comes with the planning.

Would you encourage others to become involved in OBP programs and events?  If so, why? Yes. I don't think the community members understand just how important OBP is and all the planning that goes into the events. I hope to spread the word about the great work that is being done to support not only our local businesses but community members too!

What is something you would like to share with our readers? I hope to help build a greater collaborative spirit in Oberlin.
President, As You Wish Luxury Travel and
Lorain County Mobility Manager
Tell us a litle about your business or profession. At As You Wish Luxury & Romance Travel, we know that planning your river cruise or romantic getaway can be frustrating and overwhelming. Researching and booking flights, transportation, tours, and accommodations on your own can quickly go awry, causing you to be unsure about your upcoming travel experience. It shouldn't be that way. When we plan a vacation for our clients, they feel confident and at ease. ​Our white-glove services allow you to sit back and relax while we put together a vacation that is exactly what you want.

Tell us a little big about you - your interests, passions, etc. I was born and raised in Oberlin. I played baby Jesus in the Mount Zion Baptist Church (LOL). My family is here because my father helped to integrate the FAA before I was born. I went to OHS and later JVS. I obtained my BS Degree in Green and Sustainable Enterprise Business Management from University of Phoenix. I started working for the City of Oberlin just after graduating from JVS and OHS. I worked there for 25 years and served in a lot of positions such as the Secretary to just about every Board or Commission, and also substituted as City Clerk. I served as a member of Oberlin City Council for 6 years.
AJ! and I started the travel agency business in 2014. We kicked off the business in February 2015 with a
Be-YOU-tiful Bridal Show at New Russia Township Hall. I worked for the Oberlin Project/Oberlin College for 5 1/2 years. I played a small role in developing the diversity section of the Environmental Dashboard during it's infancy. I did a brief stint with Lorain County Urban League before being a consultant for MOVE Lorain County which lead to my current full-time position as the Lorain County Mobility Manager at United Way of Greater Lorain County. I am currently a member of the Executive Committee for the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce and serve as the Chair of the Membership Committee. This spring AJ!, and I are venturing into the Short Term Rental market in Geneva, Ohio in the heart of the Wine Trails.

Why did you volunteer to be an OBP Board of Trustees member? I love the Oberlin community. Since retiring from the City of Oberlin in 2019 and working full time in Lorain, I've felt a disconnect from Oberlin. This is my second go around as a member of the Chamber Board in Oberlin. I love to be supportive and assist others and help them succeed.

Would you encourage others to become involved in OBP programs and events? If so, why? Yes. When we secure our new venture in Geneva, Ohio. One of the first things I plan to do is join the Chamber in that area. I am the Membership Chair for Lorain County Chamber of Commerce. I know first hand that networking with others is a true benefit. We have had many customers that used our services because we attend many of the events and support the events as sponsors. It pains me to see so many tools offered by Chambers and business organizations like OBP that are not utilized and that usually are at no extra cost and that could really be a great benefit to the business. Just the networking alone and getting to know others is the least that every business should make an effort to do.

What is one piece of advice or input you would like to share with our readers? The best move a business can make is to not only join the Chamber but to learn about all the FREE or low-cost ways OBP can support their business. Take advantage of networking at every chance and meet someone new. People like doing business with people they know and OBP provides many of these opportunities.

Owner, The Slow Train Cafe
The Local Coffee & Tea
Tell us about your business. I run two independent coffee shops and community spaces downtown that have served the Oberlin community since 2010.

Tell us a little bit about you - what are your interests, passions, etc. Originally from Rochester, New York, I moved to Oberlin in 1997 as a freshman at Oberlin College and basically never left. My husband is the Men’s soccer coach at the college and together we are raising our two daughters, Maddi and Maia in this wonderful community. My loves, besides my family, are all things soccer, dogs (any animals really, I have a bizarre knack for reuniting temporarily lost pets with their owners in town). I also thoroughly enjoy everything about the coffee shop business, one of my greatest sources of joy is providing our community with a safe, warm and comfortable space to enjoy each other’s company, amazing coffee and wonderful baked goods.

Why did you volunteer to be an OBP Board of Trustees member? And what are you hoping to achieve by your involvement on the board? Now that my children are a little older, I am able to further devote myself to enriching the Oberlin community, outside of just running my businesses. Joining the OBP board is one of those opportunities I am now able to take advantage of. I am looking forward to having a small part in the future direction of this community and the path we all take together to bring Oberlin into it’s next chapter as a vibrant, unique and energetic city.

Would you encourage others to become involved in OBP programs and events? If so, why? Being involved in things that matter, on any level, is an exceptional opportunity. It is truly a gift to play a role in something bigger than yourself and those who are invested in their community, when able, should absolutely take advantage of those opportunities when they arise.

What is one piece of advice or input you would like to share with our readers? As we push through these next few months, I hope we all remember to continue finding the patience, kindness and strength we need to maintain our businesses, livelihoods, happiness, families, mental and physical health…so that when this pandemic is finally all over, we will emerge stronger than ever as a community.

Owner, Bistro Bella Luna
55 E. College St., Suite 4
Tell us a little bit about your business or profession. Bistro Bella Luna is a full-service bistro style restaurant featuring scratch cooking, fresh cut meats and seafood. We serve breakfast, lunch. dinner and a weekend brunch.

Tell us a little bit about you – your interests, passions, etc. Bistro Bella Luna is my passion. It is a great little place. I enjoy going to sporting events, live theater, visiting downtown Cleveland and various restaurants. I grew up in Eastlake, Ohio and have been in the restaurant business 40 plus years. I have recipes in two cookbooks, one from California another from Toronto. I lived in Clearwater, Florida for 8 years. I worked with and helped promote the first Taste of Cleveland. I taught a cooking with beer class as well.

Why did you volunteer to be an OBP Board of Trustees member? And what are you hoping to achieve by your involvement on the board? I joined to help promote local business--to help draw more people from surrounding communities and maybe add something to the event list. I’m hoping to help create a thriving business district

Would you encourage others to become involved in OBP programs and events? If so, why? Yes. To form a sense of community and family.

What is something you would like to share with our readers? My advice is to work hard, stay focused, and perform your best. You never know who you may be serving – treat all the same. 
The City of Oberlin has restricted public access to City facilities until further notice.  Business may be conducted via telephone or email, and certain services may be conducted in-person by appointment only.  Please visit for City contact information and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up to date information!

 Public Access Restrictions: With the rise in COVID-19 cases in Lorain County, effective December 29, 2021, the City of Oberlin has restricted public access to City facilities until further notice.  Only the Oberlin Police Department will remain accessible to the public at this time. In-person business may still be conducted for certain City services by appointment only. Visit to get information on how to schedule an appointment or conduct business online or over the phone. If there are any questions or concerns, please contact Communications Manager Diane Ramos at or 440-775-7217.
Oberlin Connector Service Continues Through 2023: With additional funding from the American Rescue Plan, the City of Oberlin is able to continue to provide expanded transit service to the Oberlin community through 2023. The Oberlin Connector is a demand-response service contracted through Lorain County Transit that allows riders to call to make arrangements for same day travel or up to 2 weeks in advance. The Oberlin Connector runs from 6:00am-6:00pm and from 9:30pm-12:30am, Monday through Friday. The service area includes Oberlin and portions of New Russia Township, Amherst Township, Amherst, Lorain, Sheffield Township, Elyria and Carlisle Township. The City provides this public transportation service to offer community members greater means of mobility and independence, to support its environmental sustainability efforts and to advance workforce transportation opportunities for residents. For more information, visit
COVID-19 Vaccinations: COVID-19 vaccinations are now available for those age 5+, with booster doses available to those age 16+.  Lorain County Public Health offers FREE vaccinations, with all types available (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson).  Visit or call 440-284-3206 to schedule an appointment or for more information on COVID-19 vaccinations. Several other local vaccination providers are available as well. Visit or contact your local pharmacy to schedule an appointment or for more information.
Downtown Snow & Ice Removal: The City of Oberlin has contracted with GoGreen Landscaping to perform snow and ice removal in the downtown business district through April.  GoGreen will remove snow and ice in the public right-of-way (sidewalks and crosswalks) and the Public Works Department will continue to plow and salt streets. If there are any questions or concerns related to downtown maintenance initiatives, please contact Communications Manager Diane Ramos at or 440-775-7217.
News & Updates: The City sends bi-monthly newsletters to residents with information on City programs, services and events. These items, along with past editions of News & Updates mailers are now available online HERE.

City Email Updates: Keep up to date on important City announcements, including City programming and service updates, job openings, event announcements and more! Sign up today:

Emergency Notification System: It’s more important than ever to stay informed. Members of the local workforce are encouraged to register for the Wireless Emergency Notification System (WENS). This system is used by the City of Oberlin and Lorain County to alert the community about emergency situations, such as boil alerts, power outages, street closures, weather alerts, etc. Alerts can be received via email, text message and/or voicemail. Register HERE. For more information, contact the Oberlin Fire Department at 440-774-3211 or