FAIRBORN – Fairborn city leaders will roll up their sleeves this Saturday for a special planning retreat to discuss building up the downtown area.
Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson, city council members, several city staff members, members of the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce and members of the Downtown Fairborn Betterment Association (DFBA) are meeting from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairborn Holiday Inn, 2800 Presidential Drive, to establish an action plan that will help continue to revitalize the downtown area of the city.
“So far, we have mostly focused on Broad Street with the purchase and demolition of the three blighted motels. We realized that we should also come up with a strategy for Main Street since the two streets are interrelated and need each other to be successful,” Anderson said. “This has been a priority of mine from when I was the economic development director and is one of the things council wanted to focus on this year.”
According to Anderson, Richard Kaiser, cofounder of the Wilderness Agency, a Fairborn marketing, design and creative business, will facilitate the five-hour retreat. Kaiser serves as marketing strategist with Gem City Business Solutions and director of the Wilderness Agency, a subsidiary of Gem City Business Solutions. Over the past eight years, Kaiser has worked with nearly a hundred organizations to identify opportunities to invest strategically in their marketing to grow their businesses.
“I have known Richard for years,” Anderson said. “He is very familiar with Fairborn and brings a lot of experience and knowledge of some of the programs that have been successful in downtown Dayton and other downtowns.”
During the May 8 city council work session, Kaiser discussed a Wright State University graduate student survey that was conducted in 2016. A team of graduate students surveyed nearly 600 students on campus about their perceptions of the City of Fairborn. Of those 600 students, 234 lived on campus.
The results of the survey revealed that 48 percent of students living on campus thought Fairborn had a lack of student-centric businesses and had nothing fun or entertaining to do. The students recommended that downtown Fairborn have more late-night options for students and public transportation to and from the area.
Anderson, who was the economic development director for Fairborn at that time, said the results confirmed many things city officials already knew about the city, but the survey provided them with the data to back up their presumptions.
“I think there is tremendous potential here,” Kaiser said. “We can take the results of this survey and other information and move forward with the vitalization of the downtown area.”
Anderson noted that during the retreat, city leaders would be brainstorming to generate ideas and to come up with creative solutions that will bring a new life to the downtown area of the city.
“I want to walk out of the retreat with several action items and knowing how we are going to implement these plans,” Anderson said during the work session. “We want to make the downtown area of the city a vibrant community.”
“I think the time is right to do this,” Deputy Mayor Paul Keller added.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.