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					     EMPOWERING LOCAL COMMUNITIES
       for ECONOMIC & COMMUNITY
              DEVELOPMENT



                            COVINGTON, OHIO
                                                  May 2008
                                      FINAL REPORT




All educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory
basis without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, gender, age, disability or Vietnam-
era veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Ag. Admin. and Director, OSU Extension
Empowering Local Communities is designed to help public officials, community leaders and
residents cooperatively make decisions about appropriate community and economic
development strategies for their community’s future.

Together participants:
    Explore development strategies
    Analyze capacities to choose appropriate strategies
    Gain broad community support through the empowerment of citizens
    Build on existing physical, capital, social and human resources
      Create an action plan for implementation of outcomes


In April and May 2008 Covington area leaders gathered to implement the “Empowering
Local Communities” Program. Residents, elected and appointed officials, educators and
business leaders reviewed the assets and challenges facing their community. Together
these individuals built an action strategy that would lead to fulfilling the vision they
share for today’s and tomorrow’s residents. The following summary records those
strategies and suggests some objectives and action steps to reach the community’s
goals.

                                   PARTICIPANTS
             Annie Harrison                           Ed Allan
             Rike Miller                              Nancy Palser
             Sally J Rudy                             Lowell Yingst
             Gary Godfrey                             Joe Meyer
             Bill Westfall                            Janeen Selanders
             Mark Schilling                           Janet DeHart
             Diane Thompson                           George Karayannis
             Howard Storm                             Melinda Huntley
             Jim O’Donnell                            Jay Wackler
             Randy Earl                               Brad Hall
             Chris Haines                             Holly Rohr
             Jim McGarry                              Ed McCord
             Janice Yohey                             John Weikert
             Deb Weikert                              Lisa McCord
             Thomas Carder                            Kay McKinney
             Lee Harmon                               Donna Dewey
             Scott Tobias                             Nancy Swigart
             Alex Reck                                Kate Karayannis
             Joe Meyer

Workgroup Leaders :
George Karayannis, Tourism Development
Bill Westfall, Agri-business Development


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Rike Miller & Gary Godfrey, Retirement Industry Development
Chris Haines, Business Retention and Expansion

Vision Statement

Community residents of all ages were surveyed regarding their vision for Covington’s
future. These surveys were compared for common elements that were shared by
various groups of the community. A list of these elements is included in the Vision for
Covington statement.

                                A Vision for Covington

The Covington Area of the future will have
    A strong local economy
    Increased recreational and entertainment opportunities
    An economically vibrant business district
    Managed growth that preserves a small town feel
    Strong local leadership
    Excellent Schools


Strategies

The following four (4) strategies represent key areas that would enhance the social,
environmental and economic well-being of Covington area residents. These strategies were
selected by the participants during the planning sessions and were based on the review of
information and discussion of the community’s existing and potential resources. The following
four strategies are not ranked in priority order.

Strategy: Business Retention and Expansion
This strategy requires community leaders to work closely with existing local businesses
to acquire the support necessary to remain viable in the community. The Covington
community is proud of the many businesses that support the local economy through job
creation, local tax revenues and support of community activities. The goods and
services these businesses create are vital to the future well-being of Covington. An on-
going public program that provides area businesses support in solving problems,
exploring opportunities and attracting resources is critical to the economic vitality of the
area.

Strategy: Attraction of the Retirement Industry
This strategy emphasizes the amenities of life that attract retired people to live in the
community. Having retirees in a community means additional business activity and
should be considered an industry attraction strategy. Retirees require basic services
such as groceries, housing and health care, and tend to spend their income locally. The


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Covington Visioning Survey identified the desire of area seniors to remain in the local
community. The development of housing alternatives mixed with the availability of daily
goods and services will strengthen the Covington area as a location where residents
can remain and enjoy the senior years of their lives in a productive way.

Strategy: Agri-business Opportunities
This strategy focuses on the community becoming a specialized center serving the
needs of farmers and agri-businesses. It includes encouraging new businesses that
specialize in personnel services, professional services, wholesale and warehousing
enterprises, to locate and expand in the community. Adding value to further process
the products or services leaving the farm or those used in farming is another method to
develop agribusinesses. The Covington area is a strong agricultural community with the
potential to maintain and grow the local economy through support of agricultural
products.


Strategy: Tourism Development
This strategy focuses on identifying opportunities for developing a community event,
facility or attraction that brings people to the community to spend recreational dollars
that may create new jobs. Communities become tourist destinations for a number of
reasons. These include scenic areas, recreational areas, historical areas, ethnic areas,
and any other area that has something unique to offer. Tourism development is an
attractive strategy because it is usually based upon an existing resource. The Covington
area has a number of natural resource amenities, community events, a German Baptist
influence, recreational amenities and entertainment facilities that can develop and
foster a tourism economy.

Objectives

Project brainstorming

The participants of the planning session focused on brainstorming a number of projects
that would lead to fulfilling the goals of the four (4) strategies. A summary of these
projects are as follows:

Retirement Community/Attraction of Retirees
1. Complete a market study to determine the demand for type of housing
     Location
     Couples
     Age group
     Income levels
     Price of home

2. Assess methods for interaction between various age groups of the community


                                           4
Agri-Business Development
1. Educate community on the diversity of the agribusiness economy
     Farm implement dealers
     Grain/seed dealers/elevators
     Harvestland Co-op
     Kerry Ingredients Food Processors
     General Films Food Packaging
     Seigels General Store
     4-H Clubs
     Conservation
     German Baptists

2. New farm owners’ small farm training program

3. Direct marketing strategies
    To schools
    Farmers market

4. Help farmers find a niche

5. Link to tourism and natural resources

Business and Industry Retention and Expansion
1. Form BR&E Communities to survey local businesses
     Work in teams of two people over eight months
     Create a local business inventory
     Act on needs from survey

2. Review zoning laws

3. Establish an economic development position to provide support to area businesses

Tourism Development (Tourism Tigers)
1. Re-create the Greenville Falls Dam
     Hydro Education
     Albery Legacy
     Green Energy
     DP&L partner
     Ohio – Erie Canal Reservation

2. Miami County Dairy
    Farm Tours
    CHEESE!


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      Ice Cream

3. Build on German Baptists’ heritage
     Farming
     Craftsmen
     Quilts
     Dairy

4. Development of theatre industry
    Newberry Theatre
    Dayton Area Theatrical Associations
    Loft, Edison
    Professional troupe
    Children’s theater
    501 (c)(3)
    Outdoor Theater
    Drive-In/Walk-in
    School Lot or Wright St.

5. Support development of Bradford-Piqua bike trail

6. Build on local amenities including
     Signage to direct visitors
           o I-75
           o Rt. 36/41/48 (TODS)
           o In-town
     High St. Bridge
     Buffalo Jacks
     River Fun
           o Boating/canoeing/ tubing
           o Involve other river communities
     School Sports Tournaments
           o 3 on 3 Basketball
     Historic Registry
     Museum
     Greenville Falls/Prairie Parks
           o Signage needed
           o Natural resource inventory
     Miami County Visitor’s Bureau
     Fort Rowdy


                                           6
Action Planning
Each of the strategy workgroups selected projects that would be a logical first step to
begin implementation of an economic development agenda for the community. The
workgroups developed specific actions to be taken including who would be responsible
for the action and a timeline for implementation. The projects and specific action steps
for each of the four strategies are:

Strategy: Retirement Community
Project: Complete a market study to determine the targeted needs for housing

Timeframe for completion: 90 days

Members of the Workgroup:
  Critical    Leadership        Resources            Assistance     Time to   Indicators of
  Steps                         Available             Needed       Complete     Success
                                                                      Task
1. Develop     Workgroup      Internet              OSU           30 days     Survey
survey                                              Extension                 Ready
questions                                           Review
2. Secure      Gary           55+ mailing           None          30 days     Purchase of
list of survey                list                                            list
participants
3. Distribute Workgroup       a. Mailing list       OSU           60 days     Survey sent
survey                        b. Newspaper
                              c. Internet
                              d. Incentives
                              to complete
                              include
                              1. $100 cash
                              gift
                              2. $50 gas
                              card
                              3. $25 food
                              certificate

4. Compile     Workgroup      Returned       OSU                  90 days     Returns
data                          questionnaires                                  come in
5. Review      Workgroup      Community                           6 months    Number of
survey                        leaders and                                     developers
results with                  county                                          who review


                                                7
developers                     economic                                        material
                               development
                               office

Strategy: Agribusiness Development
Project: Educate the community on what agriculture really encompasses

Timeframe for completion: 90 days

Members of the Workgroup:
Critical Steps    Leadership     Resources         Assistance        Time to   Indicators of
                                 Available          Needed          Complete     Success
                                                                      Task
1. Define        Workgroup     Duane                              2 weeks      Completed
agribusiness                   Runyon                                          definition of
                                                                               agribusiness
2. Do an       Workgroup       Farm Service                       2 weeks      Completed
inventory of                   Agency                                          data base
area
agribusinesses                 Chamber of
                               Commerce

                               Miami Co.
                               Extension
                               Office
3. Compile       Workgroup                        Sponsor for     2 weeks      Completed
information                                       monetary                     directory
into a                                            assistance
directory and
print
4. Distribute    Workgroup                        Local           60 days      Number of
Directory                                         organizations                households
                                                                               receiving
                                                                               directory




                                              8
Strategy: Business Retention and Expansion
Project: Employ an economic development coordinator

Timeframe for completion: 9 months

Members of the Workgroup:
Critical Steps    Leadership     Resources            Assistance      Time to     Indicators of
                                 Available             Needed        Complete       Success
                                                                       Task
1. Discuss       Workgroup     Local Utilities,                                 Commitment to
concept with     CAIC          Village                                          further explore
Covington        Officers      Officials,                                       the possibilities
Area             Village       Grants,
Improvement      Council       Chamber of
Corporation                    Commerce
(CAIC)                         and
                               memberships
2. Conduct a     CAIC and      Chamber of         Experiences                   Final report with
feasibility      Village       Commerce,          of other                      recommendations
study            Officials     County             villages
                               Economic
                               Development
                               Office and
                               Local
                               Businesses
3. Identify      CAIC and      Chamber of         Determine if                  Have a viable
reporting unit   Village       Commerce,          position is full              organization
for the          Officials     County             or part-time.                 providing
position                       Economic           Also if                       leadership
                               Development        position is
                               Office and         combined
                               Local              with other
                               Businesses         duties.
4. Identify      CAIC and      Chamber of         Donation of                   An established
space and        Village       Commerce,          space,                        commitment
facility to      Officials     County             equipment
house                          Economic           and office
economic                       Development        support
development                    Office and
office                         Local
                               Businesses
5. Gain          CAIC          Commercial         Local media                   Results of
community                      real estate        and area                      community
support for                    agents and         organizations                 information



                                                  9
growth                        developers                                     sessions


6. Secure      CAIC           Local            Revolving      9 months       Commitment for
funding                       community        loan funds                    funding
                              organizations                                  contributions
                              and
                              businesses


Strategy: Tourism Development
Project: Numerous actions to be taken to strengthen tourism industry

Timeframe for completion: Less then one year to ten years

Members of the Workgroup:

  Less then 1 Year           1-3 Years                3-5 Years                5-10 Years
Improve Fort Rowdy     Secure                   Complete bikeway to      Complete Fort Rowdy
Gathering marketing    owner/developer for      Bradford and Piqua       re-creation
                       Grandma’s Kitchen
Improve Candlelight    Secure public funding    Deploy historical        Recreate Greenville
Christmas marketing    for Newberry Theatre     statues                  Falls and Energy
                                                                         Center
Improve regional       Secure                   Improve directional      Improve directional
public relations       owner/developer for      signage in town and      signage on I-75
coordination           Miami County Dairy       on state routes
                                                phase 2
Conduct natural        Install Frisbee Golf
resources inventory    Course
Engage German          Secure Bed &
Baptists leaders in    Breakfast owners
tourism
Engage Buffalo Jacks   Improve directional
in tourism project     signage in town and
                       on state routes
                       phase 1




                                               10
Project: Fort Rowdy Marketing
Critical Steps    Leadership    Resources           Assistance      Time to   Indicators of
                                Available            Needed        Complete     Success
                                                                     Task
Engage Ft.       Mark                                            3 weeks
Rowdy Board      Schilling,
                 George
                 Karayannis

Seek a           Mark          Contact info,    Demographics, 4 months
family-          Schilling,    demographics     sales pitch
oriented         George        / rationale
corporate        Karayannis
sponsor (e.g.,
Coke/Pepsi)

Install                                         Sign             9 months     Sign installed
permanent                                       requirements
event signage


Project: Candlelight Christmas Marketing
Critical Steps    Leadership     Resources          Assistance      Time to   Indicators of
                                 Available           Needed        Complete     Success
                                                                     Task
Improve                                         Signage          4 months     Sign installed
event signage                                   funding
on main
routes                                          Sign
                                                requirements




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Ohio State University Extension Team Recommendations

The Ohio State University Extension Team that has facilitated the Covington Area
Empowering Communities for Economic and Community Development Program has
been extremely impressed by the commitment and follow through by the participants in
the process. We believe this group forms a knowledgeable and capable core to move
forward the four strategies selected by the community. The projects and action steps
selected by each of the strategy workgroups are realistic with great potential to
strengthen the Covington area economy and the lifestyle of residents. To assist with
implementation of the action steps the Extension Team offers the following
recommendations.

Recommendation One: The core members of the process will need the support of
additional local organizations and community leaders to successfully implement the
selected projects and action steps. These groups include but are not limited to
members of the following organizations who have not to date participated in the
process:
     Covington Area Improvement Corporation
     Covington Chamber of Commerce
     Covington Village Council
     Local business owners
     Covington Exempted Village School Board
     Covington Outreach Association

Recommendation Two: The establishment of a position to serve as contact for a local
economic development program is critical to the support of local businesses. Business
owners and mangers need a central clearinghouse to provide direct assistance and links
to other supporting networks. Public officials likewise need this support. It is important
that Covington leaders do no let the challenge of funding an economic development
office prevent the successful implementation of this project. There are numerous ways
to accumulate resources to fund an office. Examples from other communities include:

      donation of space and equipment by local businesses or public organizations
      beginning as a part-time position
      the position can be combined with similar positions in the community such as
       chamber director
      membership fees in the Covington Area Improvement Corporation could be
       scaled to raise funds
      contracting for services with a regional economic development office
      employing a retiree on a part-time position




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Recommendation Three: It is important for the Covington area community to recognize
the potential market area it could reach. Residents of the Piqua and Troy areas are
significantly sized communities that Covington could provide services to. This is
particularly applicable for the tourism and retirement industries. In addition, the short
distance in both miles and time to these communities makes it possible for Covington to
include services available in both Piqua and Troy as amenities in Covington. Examples
are lodging and food services. Finally, these nearby communities also provide potential
customers for a retirement community and tourism day trips.

Recommendation Four: Communities are normally very anxious to see immediate
economic benefit from their planning efforts. An industry norm for measuring success in
economic benefit from planning efforts is five years. When measuring the success of
this plan, importance should therefore be placed on completing the action steps that
will ultimately result in economic change. The completion of these first actions should
be celebrated to recognize progress being made and to encourage continuation of
implementing the plan. Communities who take actions through a long-term
commitment find greater success in fulfilling their economic goals. It will be important
for the workgroups to create action plans for their remaining projects as they gain
information from completed projects.


Reported Submitted by:

Myra Moss, Specialist Community Development
Bill Grunkemeyer, Specialist Community Development
Susan Couser, Educator Ag & Natural Resources/Community Development




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