LIMA — A more vibrant downtown and a better perception of the community are two factors that can create a more vibrant Lima, according to a consensus of attendees at an open event Thursday.
At the beginning of the Your Voice Ohio event at the UNOH Event Center, attendees were asked to write down and discuss what a vibrant community looked like.
The attendees described a vibrant community as a city that had plenty of opportunities to reach their potential, larger employers, high-quality school systems, adult education, well-maintained housing, profitable jobs and safe neighborhoods.
“I had to really start thinking what it would visually look like,” said Cindy Leis, the Allen Economic Development Group’s director of business development.
Lima is one of nine Ohio cities where Your Voice Ohio — a collaborative effort by Ohio news organizations, including The Lima News, to address the needs of Ohioans — has traveled to to address how to fix Ohio’s ailing communities.
Doug Oplinger, the former managing editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, and his colleagues from Your Voice Ohio began their journey in 2016 during the elections after realizing some articles did not adequately reflect the concerns of the people. After polling, they found they needed to do a better job.
“We found out that we had to report on what was important to them and do a better job of representing what your concerns were and presenting the news that way that citizens told us it needed to be represented,” Oplinger said. “Economy is a very serious problem, and when you look at numbers across Ohio, jobs are not where they used to be back in 2000.”
When asked what community members would change about their community, they said it would be changing the perception, income, integration, switch from being a government environment to a business environment and monitor safety.
Although there were several things that attendees said they wanted to change, they were appreciative of location and accessibility, cost of living, jobs, parks, recreation, infrastructure, diversity, educational opportunities, arts and the small-town lifestyle as assets to the community.
Ultimately, the best way to change the negative perception of the Lima to a positive one is to create a sense of community pride, change the narrative, communicate better and celebrate the small successes, Leis said.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.