Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

Why Does the Foundation Do Economic Development?

By Josh Gordon, Executive Director

In this continuing series on answering questions I get from community members about the Foundation I am finally able to address one of the most persistent questions I get – what is economic development, and why does the Foundation do it? 

Community foundations usually support local nonprofits to improve the lives of a community’s residents. That is certainly true of Barberton Community Foundation, only our mission extends support to the school district and City of Barberton, as well. All programs and initiatives we take on are designed to do the most positive for the most residents.  

The hard part is in answering this question: “Where should we focus?”  

Why? If you’re reading this, you know that our community is amazing! However, it isn’t perfect. (Yet!) 

There are questions we wrestle with in pursuit of doing the most positive for the most residents. Here are a few: 

How do we get more businesses to open and stay in Barberton? How can we help create more jobs, generating more income tax for the City? How can we make sure our neighborhoods are amazing for all residents? How can we make sure our graduates have opportunities for work and scholarships for college (if they are going)? How can we make sure every  child has a chance to go to preschool and get a head start on their academic life?  

These are just a few of the questions our highly accomplished – and 100% volunteer – board works on solutions for. 

Over the past decade, a consistent message from all board members in all strategic planning sessions is that we need more jobs and businesses in our community. Economic Development activities include work such as business retention programs, business attraction programs, land purchase, land development, land redevelopment, building purchase, building redevelopment, strategic planning, zoning, building public-private partnerships, and more. 

We are fortunate to have great partners in Mayor Judge and his office, Barberton’s Planning Commission, and more. But, the truth is, there is more work than all of us working together can accomplish. So we must divide and conquer, playing different, distinct roles so we can make progress.

3 Primary Ways the Foundation Helps with Economic Development  

#1 Helping Define an Economic Development Strategy  

One of my favorite quotes is “A problem well defined is a problem half-solved.” Charles Kettering – the head of research for General Motors from 1920 to 1947 said that.  

 It means that if we understand a problem completely – with data, opinion, thoughtful solution engineering, etc. – then we are better positioned to establish a permanent resolution.   

The Foundation helps to fund plans, works to create strategy, and learns what businesses need for support. Others in the community do as well. We compare notes and are working on establishing an “official” strategic plan for economic development that we can measure and show accomplishments from. Strategy must come first.  

#2 Convening Stakeholders 

That’s a pretty buzzword-filled subheading, huh? Essentially it means that when we need different organizations, officials, and experts to work together on a problem we are facing, they are usually willing to pick up the phone when the Foundation calls. We can convene them – get them in the same room – to discuss the challenges we are facing and help establish solutions. 

There are so many experts in specific areas – tax incentives, public-private partnerships, land acquisition, historic tax credits, commercial construction, commercial building redevelopment, etc. – that having all that knowledge in one person or entity just isn’t possible. It takes experts coming together around a problem to create progress. This is an area where the Foundation can really help.  

#3 Funding Solutions 

The Foundation provides grants and can make investments with our money. There are many, many rules for how we have to do that.  

We have more economic development needs and opportunities our community right now than we have funds. So, what can we do? 

We can fund targeted programs that help businesses. We fund programs that are executed in part by our wonderful partners at Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC).  

June 1 – June 30 business and building owners in Barberton can sign up for two amazing programs. Barberton Community Foundation is funding each at $100,000, with the goal of providing as many resources as possible to a business to help it grow and become more successful. It’s a reward for setting up shop in Barberton!  

The Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) is for established businesses that wish to expand their operation and must add jobs. They can apply for a grant through the Foundation, and approved concepts are passed along to BCDC for evaluation and “the green light” to begin.  

The Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP) is for businesses in our downtown area that need grant money to improve their building or business. The money is only available for downtown businesses, because downtown is a very important part of the present and future success of our community.  

By backing economic development as a critical community initiative, and having an accomplished professional to help us run the programs such as our Director of Economic Development, Gil Gonzales, we are able to make progress on various economic development initiatives for our community.  

Focusing on developing Barberton’s economy – through the programs mentioned here and many more opportunities that are in motion (but early stage right now) – is a critical part of the Foundation’s work. We have a clear role to play, and we intend to play it well!  

Keep those questions coming! Economic Development is a vast and complex topic that will require more than this space to fully address. Look for more on this topic from the Foundation in the coming weeks and months!  


In Community,

Josh Gordon

Executive Director 

Barberton Community Foundation 


Program Announcement: Economic Development and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program Applications Open

Program Announcement: Economic Development and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program Applications Open

Program Announcement: Economic Development and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program Applications Open

(May 30, 2024 – Barberton, Ohio) – Applications open June 1 for Barberton Community Foundation’s EDAP and DBRP funding.

The Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) and Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP) are two of Barberton Community Foundation’s programs focused on supporting local business growth and developing a strong downtown. Beginning in 2022, the programs have awarded a combined $615,433 to 17 businesses and 12 building owners downtown.

The programs are run in partnership with Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC) and are reimbursement based.

Business or building owners interested in applying

The application period is open from June 1-30.

EDAP Highlights: This program focuses on promoting business expansion. Eligible businesses must be in Barberton or are moving to Barberton. Job creation is a required component of this application. Funding is used to upgrade equipment or machinery, support building improvements, site development, and infrastructure.

DBRP Highlights: This program focuses on improving buildings in historic downtown Barberton. Eligible buildings must be within the downtown footprint (map available on our website). Funding is used for interior rehab projects, window and door replacement or repair, roof repairs, structural systems, façade repairs, or for the purchase of equipment.

Full program details, including full eligibility and ineligible uses, can be found on the Foundation’s website. To start an application, create a login through the Foundation’s GOapply portal.

Call Gil Gonzales, director of economic development, with questions at 330-745-5995 or email ggonzales@barbertoncf.org.

Photo 1: Example of Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) –  In August, 2022, Big Mike’s Automotive purchased four scissor lifts with their funding and plans to hire four more technicians. (L-R) Michael and Felicia Cowans, with their daughters Lydia and Alexis, and VP John Prouty.

Photo 2: Example of Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP) Beltline Hobbies, building owner Mark Kozarevich stands with his son Kyle Illingworth, owner of Beltline Hobbies. Mark’s family bought their building in 1937. He used the DBRP funding to repair the side of the wall, where brick work was crumbling.

Photo 3: Example of Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program (DBRP): Pregame Tavern, owned and operated by Chad Morrison Sr. and his son, Chad Morrison Jr. received funding through a downtown rehab grant for building improvements at 105 and 107 2nd St. NW including updating a bathroom and installing a patio.

Gil Gonzales Joins Barberton Community Foundation

Gil Gonzales Joins Barberton Community Foundation

Gil Gonzales Joins Barberton Community Foundation as New Director of Economic Development

Gonzales brings national and local expertise and resources to Barberton

May 28, 2024

Gil Gonzales - photo from the chest up in a gray suit jacket with the lake in the background.

Gil Gonzales serves as the Foundation’s new Director of Economic Development

Barberton Community Foundation is pleased to announce Gil Gonzales has joined the Foundation as its new Director of Economic Development. Gonzales brings a strong background in economic development and a deep commitment to supporting small businesses to his role, where he will lead and support initiatives to grow Barberton’s economic base and strengthen the community by leveraging the Foundation’s resources.

“We are thrilled to welcome Gil Gonzales to our team,” said Josh Gordon, Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation. “His extensive background in economic development, combined with his passion for small business support, make him an exceptional fit for this role. We are confident that Gil’s broad experience, leadership, and tenacity will bring growth and opportunity to Barberton, enhancing our momentum.”

Born and raised in Fresno, California, Gonzales’ upbringing shaped his community-focused worldview. Raised by his grandparents, whose work ethic and community mindset made a lasting impact, Gonzales learned the importance of putting people first and striving to leave the world a better place. These values have driven his commitment to supporting and uplifting communities throughout his career.

After earning his degree in Political Studies and Media Studies from Pitzer College, Gonzales secured a fellowship with then-freshman Senator Bob Dutton, which connected him to his career in economic development as the Senior Director for the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa. He gained valuable insights into how government supports business, helping to secure federal and state funding, and saw the role government can play in unlocking funds and opportunity for working people. 

From there, he served as the Vice President of Economic Development for the Arizona Commerce Authority, and then joined the then Governor office in California as an appointee in the Office of Economic and Business Development. In this role, he conducted large-scale negotiations for businesses, directed small business incentive assistance packages, and initiated a rural business outreach program. His work significantly contributed to economic growth and the support of small businesses across the state. Gonzales’ experience also includes building out the California Manufacturing Network and creating statewide programs for small manufacturers.

Most recently, Gonzales explored entrepreneurship, successfully securing $3 million venture capital backing and co-founding Subcity in 2021, a software platform that helps small manufacturing businesses access government tax credits, grants, and financing. Subcity helped companies obtain tens of millions in tax credits.

Gonzales moved to Ohio in 2022, following a job opportunity for his son’s mother, Kendra, as the head track and field coach for the University of Akron.

Regarding his new role, Gonzales said he sought the opportunity to work in Barberton because of the potential for growth and possibility he sees within the community.

“I always knew I wanted to get back into community service and economic development, with a focus on small business support, which is where my passion and heart is,” Gonzales said. “As a long-time economic developer, I am fortunate to be working in Barberton. This city is rich in American history, and full of hard-working people who love their hometown. We have the potential to show the rest of the nation what one small community can do together through collaboration, rolling up our sleeves and doing the hard work ahead.”  

In addition to managing the Newell Industrial site, Gonzales will take the lead on the Foundation’s upcoming economic development programs, including the Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) and the Downtown Rehabilitation Program (DRP). Applications for these programs can be completed by businesses and building owners beginning June 1- June 30. Gonzales will oversee the programs, and coordinate with the Foundation’s program partner, Barberton Community Development Corporation.


About Barberton Community Foundation

Established in 1996, Barberton Community Foundation has awarded over 8,500 grants and scholarships totaling more than $109 million since its inception. The Foundation strives to improve, now and forever, the quality of life for Barberton residents by providing leadership on vital issues, fostering collaboration, and creating a legacy of giving to do good. The Foundation strengthens the community for current and future generations by proactively directing its grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs. To read more about Barberton Community Foundation visit www.barbertoncf.org or follow us on Facebook.


Foundation Awards $138k in Grants, Continues Support for Economic Development of Barberton

Foundation Awards $138k in Grants, Continues Support for Economic Development of Barberton

Foundation Awards $138k in Grants, Continues Support for Economic Development of Barberton

(March 21, 2024 Barberton, Ohio) – Barberton Community Foundation’s Board of Directors met at the Foundation’s office for a regular meeting on March 21, 2024 to approve $138,847.68 in grant funding to 13 nonprofit partners, affirmed a land swap deal to enhance the marketability of the Newell Street Industrial property, and provided second-year funding to the successful Main Street Barberton project.

“Between our various ongoing projects for economic development designed to improve our commercial building stock, and our continued grant investments in early childhood education resources and services, we are so excited to continue building momentum in the Barberton community,” said Josh Gordon, Executive Director of Barberton Community Foundation.

Guest Sheila McGhee, Director of Barberton Preschool, spoke at the beginning of the meeting as the “mission moment.” Barberton Preschool has grown significantly since its beginning in 2017 with 60 students. Today, 240 students attend Barberton Preschool, and these students test higher and are more prepared for kindergarten than their peers who do not attend Barberton Preschool.

Highlighted committee reports include the Foundation’s economic development. The Foundation is currently accepting applications for a Director of Economic Development, with an anticipated start date in May.

Updates for Newell Street Industrial Park

Work continues on the Newell Street Industrial Complex, also known as the old Rockwell site. The Board authorized Executive Director Josh Gordon to enter into an agreement with Barberton City Schools and the City of Barberton regarding a portion of land owned by the District on Norton Ave. The Foundation and the Schools agreed to a swap of the property, allowing for a road for industrial access off Norton, and keeping heavier traffic off Newell Street, where the Middle School utilizes their drop off and pick up locations.

Supporting Downtown Businesses through Main Street Barberton

The Board approved $50,000 in operating funding for Main Street Barberton. This funding is part of a three-year commitment and partnership with the City of Barberton to fund the startup of Main Street Barberton. The organization is working to revitalize downtown by promoting current businesses, hosting events to bring visitors to experience the Magic City, and serving as a key strategist for new development.

Continuing the Foundation’s partnership with Main Street Barberton, the organization will launch a new sign design program beginning April 1, 2024, and the application period closes May 15, 2024. Businesses’ signs that are out of compliance will now have an opportunity to update their signage through a 50% matching grant program in partnership with BCDC.

First Cycle Grants Awarded

The main business of the meeting was to approve requests from the first grant cycle of the year. The Foundation awarded $138,847.68 to 13 nonprofits focused on Education and Workforce & Economic Development programs.

Barberton City School District was awarded four different grants totaling $46,847.68. Those grants include:

  • $24,000 to Barberton Preschool’s Summer Learning Program, offering a 3-week learning experience in July to better prepare students for their kindergarten year. The program prioritizes Barberton resident children entering kindergarten in the fall. Through the Foundation’s support, this program is free to attend, and transportation will be provided. For more information, contact the Preschool.

  • $9,846.68 to support services provided to families in AMHA housing from Barberton City School District. For this program, the District will match funds from the Foundation to increase (from 2 days to 4 days per week) on-site after-school tutoring for resident students at AMHA homes, provide bimonthly parent meetings, transportation to open houses and conferences, as well as student transportation for Upward Bound programs. Special note: we recognize Phil Hodanbosi for writing this grant on behalf of the District.

  • $9,000 for Improving Attendance at Barberton Primary and Intermediate Schools. Funding for this program is used for parent education, postcards, and student incentives. Chronic absenteeism is a hidden problem in schools because students can miss days for many different reasons. In the 2022-2023 school year, 284 primary students missed 18 or more days and 230 intermediate students missed 18 or more days. When students miss school, they miss important foundational skills and lessons which can never be made up. The district is hoping to close the attendance gap.

  • $4,000 to Barberton Middle School for STEM Supplies. In 2023, the School District expanded its STEM offerings to all 6-8 grade students. The District purchased $120,000 of equipment in technology-based career areas so students can explore areas that fit their interests and skills. This funding provides support for the cost of consumables used throughout the year in these labs. Examples include wood, glue guns and glue, and small hand tools for the energy lab, suturing materials for the nursing lab, and electrical wiring materials for the home maintenance lab.

Limitless Ambition received $20,000 for their program Purposely Chosen Teen Programming in Barberton City Schools. Limitless Ambition works with young women to overcome boundaries to their success. This program will work with 50 girls ages 13-18 throughout the school year, highlighting social-emotional learning, demonstrating leadership, and providing strong role models to help these girls build confidence, dream big, and achieve their goals.

National Inventors Hall of Fame, Inc. received $15,000 for 2024 Camp Invention in Barberton. Camp Invention is a summer enrichment program for Barberton Primary and Intermediate students (grades K-6) with curricula focused on developing creativity, inventive thinking, and problem-solving skills through hands-on STEM content. Funding supports 185 Barberton students by underwriting costs for children to attend based on financial need.

Child Guidance & Family Solutions received $10,000 for their program Toddlers & Preschoolers Succeeding (TAPS) in Barberton. TAPS provides on-site training for preschool and childcare staff on how best to respond to challenging classroom behaviors and improve kindergarten readiness. The organization anticipates serving 262 preschoolers with this funding.

Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio received $10,000 to support its Troops in Low-Income Communities program. This grant supports operating expenses, memberships, uniforms, and supplies for 20 girls in grades K-8 to engage in 20-week after-school STEM-based programming through the Girl Scouts.

Great Trail Council of Boy Scouts of America was awarded $10,000 to support The Exploring Program for middle and high school students. The Exploring Program is a workforce development program focusing on 12 career path exploration opportunities through a partnership with Barberton community partners (local businesses, organizations, and occupational professionals) during the school day.

United Way of Summit & Medina received $10,000 for support of their Financial Empowerment Center. The Center estimates serving 200 residents through free financial empowerment programming, including one-on-one financial coaching, tax preparation and banking assistance.

Junior Achievement of North Central Ohio received $7,000 for its program called Inspiring Barberton Students through JA Programming. Program funding directly supports financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work readiness programming for K-12th grade students in Barberton. These programs are designed to teach students how to generate wealth and effectively manage it, how to create jobs that make their communities more robust, and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking to a workplace.

Service Corps of Retired Executives Association – SCORE Akron received $5,000 for community and workforce development programs. We know small businesses are essential to the economic health of our community, but finding support can be hard. Services through SCORE include mentoring and workshop programs for Barberton entrepreneurs interested in starting their own business or expanding their existing business.

Project Learn of Summit County was awarded $5,000 for providing GED classes at the Barberton Public Library and estimates they will support 25 Barberton residents studying for the GED exam. Project Learn provides literacy and lifelong learning services that help adults achieve their goals as family members, workers, community members and lifelong learners. Since 1981, it has provided free classes to more than 27,400 adults throughout Summit County.


About Barberton Community Foundation

Established in 1996, Barberton Community Foundation has awarded over 8,500 grants and scholarships totaling more than $109 million since its inception. The Foundation strives to improve, now and forever, the quality of life for Barberton residents by providing leadership on vital issues, fostering collaboration, and creating a legacy of giving to do good. The Foundation strengthens the community for current and future generations by proactively directing its grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs. To read more about Barberton Community Foundation visit www.barbertoncf.org or follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/barbertoncommunityfoundation.


Economic Development and Downtown Rehabilitation Funding Available

Economic Development and Downtown Rehabilitation Funding Available

New funding available: Economic Development and Downtown Rehabilitation Programs

In the summer of 2022, in partnership with BCDC, the Barberton Community Foundation launched two new programs to support businesses in Barberton, the Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) and the Downtown Barberton Rehabilitation Program (DBRP). The first round of funding for both programs was highly successful with businesses able to expand, purchase equipment, renovate buildings and establish new businesses.

With support from the Foundation, BCDC granted $99,714 to eight new businesses through the Economic Development Assistance Program and $146,609 to seven downtown property owners through the Downtown Barberton Rehabilitation Program. Read more about the success of the initial round of funding.

New for 2023

The Foundation has agreed to expand the available funding, and to create two funding periods for applicants. The first round of funding opens Tuesday, January 17, with an application deadline of Monday, February 13 at 4:30 p.m.

If you are a resident of Barberton, own a business in Barberton or are interested in moving your business to Barberton, or own property in Barberton’s historic district, you may qualify for one of these programs.

View applications and detailed program descriptions >>


Ted Herncane

Ted Herncane

Director of Economic Development

Contact Ted Herncane with any questions about the Economic Development Assistance Program, Downtown Building Rehabilitation Program or scholarship to Bounce Innovation Hub.

P: 330-745-5995 

Email: therncane@barbertoncf.org

Example of Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) – Big Mike’s Automotive purchased four scissor lifts with their funding and plans to hire four more technicians. (L-R) Michael and Felicia Cowans, with their daughters Lydia and Alexis, and VP John Prouty.

Main Street Barberton Launches

Main Street Barberton Launches

New Barberton Nonprofit ‘Main Street Barberton’ Focused on Bringing More Activity and Prosperity to Downtown Barberton

Main Street Barberton Officially Launches After Nearly A Year of Research and Planning, Headed by Board Chairman Denny Liddle and Backed by the City of Barberton, Barberton Community Foundation, and More.

A new nonprofit organization, called Main Street Barberton,
has begun its official operations in the Magic City.
The goal of Main Street Barberton is to create new economic growth and development opportunities in the City of Barberton’s downtown district by rehabilitating and revitalizing the
downtown Barberton area.

While much progress has been made in downtown Barberton in recent years, a core group of citizens and financial backers came together to speed up progress while including more community members in the process.

“I have studied some of the great downtown areas in Ohio, like Wadsworth, Medina, Kent and Tiffin, and they all have one thing in common – they are part of the Main Street program offered
by Heritage Ohio,” said Main Street Barberton Board President Denny Liddle. “They have a well-proven approach to solving not a couple of issues that plague many downtowns, but an
approach that’s designed to address all of the interrelated issues that prevent a downtown from bringing shoppers, residents, businesses, and activity. I’m very excited for this organization to
get going!”

The Main Street project began as an idea at the Barberton Community Foundation, and then interest grew beyond the Foundation – financially backing the $5,000 initial investment in the project came from the Barberton Community Foundation, Arts Now, the City of Barberton, Downtown Barberton Merchant’s Association, Ignite Brewing Company, Neighborhood
Development Services, and Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro.

“I have seen the great work that Heritage Ohio has done throughout the state, and the successful impact of their program in a variety of downtowns,” said Executive Director of the
Barberton Community Foundation Suzanne Allen. “I can’t wait to see this program take root in the Magic City!”

Creating Main Street Barberton
Heritage Ohio is the state of Ohio’s “official historic preservation and Main Street organization,” working to leverage historic buildings and architecture, neighborhoods, and commercial
districts through sustainable economic development programs.

Heritage Ohio’s flagship “Main Street” program begins with a visit from “D.A.R.T.,” its Downtown Assessment Resource Team. The D.A.R.T. team visits for 2 days and meets with community
stakeholders, spends time in the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, and conducts focus groups with residents to unearth what community members have as a vision for an ideal

Once the vision is collected, Heritage Ohio combines what has been learned with its own independent research, then publishes a report back to the community.

A stakeholder group of nearly 25 community leaders was then formed. The group met monthly, and evolved into a steering committee that carried out the recommendations from the D.A.R.T. report.

Most important amongst the recommendations from the report is this – a focused organization must be established in order to achieve the vision for the downtown that the community has.
Hence, Main Street Barberton was born!

The steering committee’s last duty was to establish a board of directors.

From there, the board of directors established four committees with different roles and responsibilities. The board, which meets monthly beginning in January 2023, has adopted a Code of Regulations and is beginning to map out committee work plans for the next 12 to 24 months.

Additionally, Articles of Incorporation have been filed with the Ohio Secretary of State, and the Certificate of Approval has been granted by the state.

Main Street Barberton Board of Directors
Denny Liddle – Board President
Tim Eberhardt – Board Vice President
Ann Hutchison – Treasurer / Secretary
Jim Bauschlinger (committee chair, Economic Development)
Ted Herncane (committee chair, Design)
Deb Shreiner (committee co-chair, Organization and Promotion)
Josh Gordon (committee co-chair, Organization and Promotion)
Mayor Bill Judge
Jason Ondrus
Dorothy Somerville

Each committee chair is seeking interested community members to join their committee and work on projects from marketing and promoting downtown to cleaning up buildings and improving the spaces in the downtown area.

While the committees will be hard at work, the board also has plans to hire an executive director for Main Street Barberton, launching a talent search to fill the role later in 2023.

The organization’s primary funding for its first three years of operation will come from the Barberton Community Foundation and the City of Barberton.

“This Main Street program is another example of why we are so fortunate to have a passionate community here in Barberton,” Allen said. “Many communities need the type of focused work
that Main Street Barberton will be able to accomplish, but Barberton is able to make it happen thanks to the strength of its many organizations and how well they work together.”

Get Involved
If you are interested in learning more, or wish to serve on a committee, please contact the Barberton Community Foundation.

About Main Street Barberton
Main Street Barberton is a nonprofit organization in the City of Barberton focused on rehabilitating and revitalizing the downtown area through economic development and growth
activities. Established in 2022, the organization aims to provide the citizens of Barberton – and residents all over the state of Ohio – a unique and magical downtown experience.