By John Collier, GOPC Manager of Research
Time and time again, GOPC’s research into legacy cities and urban revitalization suggests a strong, vibrant downtown is a critical asset for the entire regional economy. The fate of central cities and their regions are so closely intertwined and as such, downtown redevelopment should be a focus of regional revitalization efforts.
The Richland County Foundation understood this point when they decided to take a bold new step in approaching civic investment. Leadership at the foundation recognized that although Downtown Mansfield has made terrific strides since the 1990’s, there was still work to be done. Instead of doing “business as usual,” leadership at RCF selected a diverse and qualified group of 15 individuals to travel to the SXSW festival in Austin, TX with the purpose of bringing back ideas and solutions to Mansfield and to ultimately develop a plan for investment in Downtown Mansfield.
After attending the festival, this group of citizens and a team of advisers engaged with the community for over a year through public events, blog entries, and interviews. This citizen to citizen interaction ensured the plan to follow would reflect the real needs and desires of Mansfield residents.
The plan that resulted from this investment in the core group of individuals and the subsequent public outreach was organized into three pillars of activity:
Mansfield is a place for business
Mansfield is a place for gathering
Mansfield is a place for living
Within these pillars of activity, the plan identifies specific goals, strategies, and action items that will help them to achieve the vision for Downtown Mansfield.
The plan has received a warm reception from the community and even garnered support from Senator Rob Portman as he noted, “we would like to dig into this and see where there is a connection with some sort of Federal program,” in a recent visit to Mansfield.
For more information about the Mansfield Rising plan, visit https://www.richlandcountyfoundation.org/community-impact/mansfield-rising