We're getting closer to that magical day and the excitement of the holidays can be felt throughout our community. I hope you are taking time to share special moments with family and friends by driving through our neighborhoods and enjoying the beautiful decorations around our town.
This weekend in downtown Chillicothe is themed Heritage Holiday weekend. There are many shops that have that special one-of-a-kind gift for that special someone in your life. Enjoy shopping this weekend, not only in the First Capital District, but throughout all of Ross County.
We've had a busy week here at the Chamber. We helped cut the ribbon at two openings, Seeds of Hope and Gadget Docs. Seeds of Hope is located behind Open Door Church on South Bridge Street. This is the third location for the organization and now they have a brand new facility to assist with those in need. Gadget Docs is located at the corner of Water and Hickory streets and offers convenient service in repairs of phones and other items. They also offer accessories. We wish the best of luck to these two great Chamber members.
Also this week, the Ohio Department of Commerce reported the minimum wage in Ohio will be increasing in 2018. Non-tipped employees will go from $8.15 to $8.30 an hour and tipped employees will go from $4.08 to $4.15 an hour beginning January 1, 2018. This increase was approved by Ohio voters in 2006.
I'd also like to share some thoughts about an article that appeared in today's edition of the Chillicothe Gazette concerning the Downtown Development Commission's discussion about the possibility of a Main Street program being brought to downtown Chillicothe. This discussion has happened many times in our community since the mid-1990s. The program is gaining some traction across the country for smaller cities who do not have organizations working to revitalize their downtowns. Our downtown has been fortunate over the years to have volunteers through the Chamber, First Capital District, the former Downtown Associates, and others, who have worked hard to help make our downtown look more attractive. It's been a collaborative effort with all to work with the city administrations in coordinated efforts for new street banners, flowers, trash cans, street studies and more. Thousands of dollars and volunteer hours have been combined to help keep the downtown area looking fantastic. The Ohio Main Street Program is administered through Heritage Ohio. It is designed to help improve all aspects of a downtown or central business area to produce tangible and intangible benefits. As discussed in the DDC meeting this week, there may be some grant opportunities that could come with having an official Main Street program here in our city. But the concern that I and the Chamber board of directors share is what would having another program and organization do to the others that have been established for many of the same reasons. The Chamber accepted the responsibility in January to begin the managing of the former Downtown Associates, and established a new committee of downtown volunteers under the title of Discover Downtown Chillicothe Partners. This group has helped raise thousands of dollars for marketing and events this year, including the current Hometown Holidays campaign. Others have worked to raise funds to light the park, plant new flowers, hang new banners, paint benches and clean sidewalks and streets. Bringing another organization to town that also is required to have a paid director forces more money to be raised, and possibly take from others who are doing much of the same work a Main Street program strives to do. We are supportive of continued efforts to revitalize our community, not just downtown but throughout Ross County. Another effort to raise tens of thousands of dollars and the creation of another organization with duplicating programs could hurt momentum that is being seen in our newly reorganized economic development department. The Greater Chillicothe Ross County Development partners are in the process of hiring a new director and fundraising efforts will begin soon after to further the investments of development in our area. Likewise, fundraising efforts continue for beautification improvements in the downtown. If this latest effort to bring another organization into the community is to succeed, those who are financially backing this effort need to work closely with those individuals and organizations already invested in many of these programs. It could be a benefit to have a dedicated person who is tasked with working with property owners and investors on new grant opportunities and be the liaison with city and county regulations. And, there are options to bring a Main Street program into Chillicothe and still have existing organizations who are invested now in downtown efforts an opportunity to work with this program instead of being replaced by this program. That is the effort we want to cooperate with. We look forward to future discussions and how we can bring this program here to have it be beneficial for growth and improvement, without being one that could force our downtown to be stagnant again if we have to wait for a program that may take years to get off the ground to operate. I hope we can call all interested parties together early in the year to further this discussion and see how a Main Street, or Main Street-like, type of program could work for Chillicothe.
For those who haven't checked out the events taking place in the downtown this holiday season, go to Facebook and like Discover Downtown Chillicothe or visit the website at
I'm looking forward to working with everyone to continue the improvement of our area. And I know the Chamber board of directors are equally excited about the opportunities that will come in 2018.
Have a marvelous and safe weekend!