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 


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.


Barberton Resident Jolese Rogers First to use Foundation Scholarship at Bounce

Barberton Resident Jolese Rogers First to use Foundation Scholarship at Bounce

Barberton Resident Jolese Rogers First to use Foundation Scholarship at Bounce

December 20, 2022

Jolese Rogers

Jolese Rogers is the first Barberton resident to take advantage of Barberton Community Foundation’s scholarship to MORTAR at Bounce Innovation Hub.

MORTAR is a 15-week small business accelerator that helps established entrepreneurs take a deeper dive into the nuances of business ownership to grow their company.

A Barberton High School graduate, Jolese went on to study at Kent State University, where she graduated with degrees in both hospitality and entrepreneurship. She’s since worked as a dual general manager for Extended Stay America as well as various other hotel brands, including Choice Hotels and Hilton. This work experience gave her the inspiration for her entrepreneurial dream: to own and operate her own bed and breakfast built with values of sustainable practices. Jolese has named her business Antoinette’s Inn, and while she is still looking for the perfect location, her business plan is set.

Antionette's Inn Brochure

Jolese designed a brochure as part of her program at Bounce.

“My bed and breakfast will operate on an eco-friendly model,” Jolese said. This includes utilizing biodegradable materials and managing a homesteading farm on the property. “I’m incredibly passionate about recycling and using eco-conscious practices in my life.” Her target market is the millennial traveler, a group she says is the largest market with a shared value on the eco-friendly practices she plans to deliver.

Jolese has participated in DECA at Barberton High School and Kent State’s Launch program. More recently she has worked with Akron SCORE and utilized the Women’s Business Center of Ohio, but she says MORTAR has helped her with real business ownership skills and provided valuable resources.

As a Barberton resident, Jolese said she couldn’t turn down the chance to go through a program that would be free for her to use based on her residency. Her advice to other Barberton entrepreneurs considering the program? Go for it. “It’s a short trip to Akron!” She said. “Uncomfortable is when great things will happen! Go the extra mile. Pun intended!”

Barberton Community Foundation covers the cost of attendance for Barberton residents or Barberton business owners to two Bounce programs: Aspiring Entrepreneurs and MORTAR.

MORTAR classes have a rolling application, so you can apply any time. The next open cohort will start in May 2023; applications are due by March 3.

Economic development programs provide funding to businesses

Economic development programs provide funding to businesses

Photos: A Scissor Lift at Big Mike’s Automotive & Collision (L-R) Michael and Felicia Cowans, with their daughters Lydia and Alexis, and VP John Prouty

Chad Morrison, and his son, Chad Jr. are co-owners of Pregame Tavern

Foundation awards 16 recipients in first economic development initiative

Big Mike’s Automotive & Collision and Pregame Tavern are among 16 recipients to be awarded funding from two of Barberton Community Foundation’s newest economic development initiatives.

Big Mike’s received funding through the new Economic Development Assistance Program, which awarded a total of $99,714 to eight different Barberton businesses for expansion or job creation.

Michael Cowans, aka Big Mike, says, “Barberton is such a strong community. The people – they embraced us. It’s been wonderful to have the community behind us, and now with the Foundation’s support, we can reach our goals even faster.”

Mike will put funding toward the purchase of four additional scissor lifts for the company’s mechanical and repair building. “These lifts get the car up and make it easier for technicians to work on them,” said Mike. “It makes a huge difference for our staff, who will have better access to the car for repair.” In addition to the lifts, Mike is hoping to hire four more employees to support his growing business.

Pregame Tavern was a recipient of the assistance from the Downtown Building Rehab Program, which awarded $146,609 to eight different projects for brick-and-mortar updates to buildings located within Barberton’s Downtown Historic District.

Chad and Amanda Morrison purchased the properties at 105 and 107 2nd St. NW in downtown Barberton. Chad opened the Pregame Tavern with his son, Chad Jr.

“I’d say our food sets us apart,” said Chad Jr. “The meatballs and sauce in our meatball sub are homemade from my great-grandma Rose’s recipe.”

Chad said they heard about the Foundation’s program during their grand opening. Amanda also owns and operates a beauty salon in Barberton, along with the Pale Petal, an online boutique that she recently expanded as a location at 107 2nd St. “We had been talking about expanding and it was perfect timing.” Chad intends to use funding from the Foundation to update the restrooms and add a patio space.

About the programs:

With the final payment on Barberton High School completed, the Foundation has turned its attention to economic development with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs, business expansion, job creation and building improvements downtown.

The Foundation partnered with Barberton Community Development Corporation (BCDC) to facilitate the programs. Applications opened in May and were reviewed by a committee of both BCDC and Foundation board members. By June, the Foundation had received more than $500,000 in requests, double the budgeted amount for the programs. Both the Economic Development Assistance Program and the Downtown Building Rehab Program are coordinated by Barberton Community Foundation, with funding provided through a grant to BCDC, which distributes this reimbursement-based funding to businesses.

Executive Director Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. said that the community has been greatly receptive to these programs. “We were very pleased with the number of applicants. We want to thank BCDC for promoting these new programs and for partnering with us.”

Ted Herncane, director of economic development, said that the project review committee chose to partially fund most projects, in an effort to support as many applicants as possible. “This is a pilot project, one that we believe will be very successful. It’s our hope that we can continue the project next year.”


Letter from the Director: Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. Discusses Needs Assessment

Letter from the Director: Suzanne Allen, Ph.D. Discusses Needs Assessment

A Note on the Needs Assessment

From Suzanne Allen Ph.D., executive director of Barberton Community Foundation

By now you have heard about, or participated in, the needs assessment that Barberton Community Foundation and our partners facilitated at the beginning of the year. In the coming weeks, we are releasing the executive summary of those findings and considering how the assessment informs our strategic planning for the future.

I want to thank our board of directors for supporting the survey, along with our three partners, Jeff Ramnytz at Barberton City Schools, Dr. Michael Hughes at Summa Health – Barberton Campus, and Mayor Bill Judge with the City of Barberton for their collaboration on this effort.

I would also like to thank Measurement Resources Company (MRC), who conducted the community-wide survey, held focus groups and produced the final report and recommendations.

Why did we facilitate this survey and what do we hope to accomplish with the data we have received?

At the conclusion of 2021, Barberton Community Foundation completed our final payment on the construction of Barberton High School. For the past 20 years, the majority of our granting capacity has been tied to the high school’s debt payment. Now that this responsibility has concluded, we can turn our attention to other needs in the community. In order to do that, our plan is to identify what those needs really are.

The Foundation had three key questions for the needs assessment to examine. What strengths and challenges exist in Barberton? How do different elements of the community influence each other and contribute to the broader story of need? Where is the City of Barberton and the Foundation best positioned to make a real impact on quality of life in Barberton?

We found that Barberton community members value Barberton as a small-town and a family-oriented community with history and opportunity. However, adults and youth reported challenges with the social climate in Barberton, some difficulty in finding adequate opportunities for employment and voiced concerns over the condition of roads and sidewalks. Despite these concerns, there is a strong desire to see, and assist with, growth and improvements in Barberton.

One focus group participant said, “People who grew up here, live here, work here, take pride in being from here. There are a lot of people who step up and want to see the city get better due to that hometown pride.”

The Foundation is going to utilize this data to help us build our strategic framework for 2023 and in the future. The executive summary of this needs assessment report lists the strengths and top needs identified by the research and will be available on our website ( in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in a deeper conversation about the findings in the needs assessment, please contact me at (330) 745-5995.

Partners Discuss Barberton Community Needs Assessment Report

Partners Discuss Barberton Community Needs Assessment Report

Partners Discuss Needs Assessment Report

At the start of the year, four agencies – Barberton Community Foundation, the City of Barberton, Barberton City School District and Summa Health System – commissioned a community needs assessment for Barberton. Now, they are set to release the report’s executive summary to the public in the coming weeks.

Barberton Community Foundation introduced the needs assessment as an important piece in future planning. “As a collective, we wanted to know Barberton’s top needs at the community and individual levels,” said Dr. Suzanne Allen, executive director of Barberton Community Foundation. “The Foundation is assessing our strategic goals for the next several years, and we need reliable data to help us make informed decisions.”

Measurement Resources Company (MRC), an organizational development and research firm headquartered in Powell, Ohio, was selected to conduct a city-wide survey, engage focus groups and deliver data-driven results to questions designed to identify needs, strengths, weaknesses and opportunities within the city.

“MRC partners with nonprofit organizations and government agencies in leading community-level data collection efforts, and then synthesizes and analyzes that data,” said Sheri Chaney Jones, president, MRC. “We used a mixed methods approach for this community needs assessment so that we could engage and incorporate the voices of more than 1,100 individuals throughout the Barberton community. By providing community members a mechanism to offer confidential and structured feedback about their perceptions of Barberton, the community helped to identify the greatest challenges that Barberton faces, as well as its top opportunities and attributes.”

Barberton residents and workers identified their top strengths and values as “high appreciation” for parks and natural resources; a sense of shared history and culture; a high degree of pro-social attitudes emphasizing community, support and a high valuation of family; a stable population with large numbers of mid-life and work-age adults; strong K-12 school system with perceived high attendance; and a perception that healthcare services are useful for children and mothers along with recent improvements in mental health treatment resources.

Identified challenges were condensed into four top categories such as improvements to road conditions and sidewalks; a need for increased financial stability; greater collaboration and trust between residents, current or prospective business owners and city leadership; and greater diversity and inclusion for people of color, single mothers and individuals of different ages and abilities with respect to Barberton’s social dynamics and recreational opportunities.

The data was collected from February 15 to April 30, 2022 and was targeted toward people who live and/or work in Barberton. More than 1,100 surveys were completed using both online and paper survey formats. Twelve focus groups met representing local business owners, community members of minority race and/or ethnicity groups, low-income households, social services providers, Fire/EMS personnel, parents of children with disabilities, older adults and others. Secondary data from additional sources like the American Community Survey, County Health Rankings and the U.S. Census supplemented MRC’s methodology.

Mayor Bill Judge, City of Barberton, said that the top needs did not come as a surprise, and thanked MRC for the report. “I’m grateful to have a third party review our biggest needs as a city,” he said. “It comes as no surprise to residents that road conditions and infrastructure are top concerns, and we already have plans underway as we continue to work to address these concerns.”  Mayor Judge concluded that the strengths found in the study reflect what makes Barberton unique. “The people of Barberton really believe in and value this community. Barberton pride is real. Seeing that reflected in the survey gives me hope we can overcome our challenges.”

Dr. Michael Hughes, president of the Summa Health System – Barberton Campus, said it is encouraging to see the strengths of the community reflected in the study. “There are many qualities that make our city great, and the needs assessment is an important tool to help us better understand how to continue to grow our community,” he said. “At Summa, we are very focused on providing not only outstanding healthcare, but also opportunities for meaningful employment on our Barberton campus and across the organization.”

Since the beginning of his tenure as president of the campus, Dr. Hughes has prioritized keeping the Barberton campus engaged and active within the community. “It’s part of our commitment to being a good community partner,” he said. “From the individual level, where each of our employees is encouraged to volunteer in the community, to the organizational level where we are at the table supporting City initiatives, we are focused on collaboration and building on the many attributes that attract people who want to live, work and raise a family here.” He hopes his approach will contribute to a growing population that puts roots in Barberton.

Barberton City Schools Superintendent Jeff Ramnytz shared the sentiments of many regarding the partnership of four Barberton entities, saying, “The needs assessment is a very important baseline to gauge how our citizens feel about our community.  Barberton is a very special place. I’ve never seen in any other place a greater collaborative and supportive nature between the city, the schools, the local hospital, the Foundation, the business community and our citizens.”

He added, “In the Barberton City Schools, we have many opportunities for our children and families. We have amazing staff members, programming, support systems, and connections with businesses that provide good paying career pathways.  Our hope, as always, is for our students and families to take advantage of what we have to offer.”

Barberton Community Foundation, the City of Barberton, Barberton City School District and Summa Health System will take this survey results into consideration for each organization’s strategic planning.