Most people choose where they will live for its location and potential to meet their family needs or special interests. I chose Fairborn to be close to where I worked and my interest in real estate. There are amenities for my family within close proximity, a diverse business community, a wonderful small town charm and potential for significant economic growth. This economic potential is built on four things: location, attraction, marketing and investment to develop.
Fairborn has the location as it sits within a short drive from a number of larger metro areas, including Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. To get to those areas, Fairborn offers great access to a transportation network including I-675, I-70 and I-75 just minutes away. There is even an active rail line within the city and an international airport within close proximity. Clearly, getting to and from the city isn’t an issue.
Drawing people to the city are two wonderful regional economic drivers. Wright State University, which sits within the southern portion of our city, brings with it 19,000 students and thousands of employees. Additionally, thousands of visitors attend special activities at the school as well as the Nutter Center events. The University also supports a number of complementary businesses connected to the research and other regional activities.
Then there is our neighbor and the largest single site employer within the state of Ohio – Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Although WPAFB doesn’t officially sit within the city boundaries, it does border Fairborn for eight and a half miles making Fairborn the largest jurisdiction to neighbor the base. This massive facility, which provides a $5 billion economic impact to this region, acts as the catalyst to hundreds of local defense contractors and supportive businesses located near the base and throughout the region.
Both of these entities provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs for Fairborn residents and draw people from all over who have the potential to participate in Fairborn events and become customers to Fairborn businesses. All of the surrounding areas to Fairborn create opportunities to partner in business ventures and special events.
In recent years the City of Fairborn has deliberately focused on capitalizing on these wonderful assets with regard to redevelopment activities, marketing efforts, community services and even special events. One great example of a partnering event we have fostered with WPAFB is the USAF Marathon, bringing visibility of our city. Another recent development is the creation of the Fairborn Job Fair and Business Expo, developed by the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Fairborn and Wright State University This year’s sponsors included Teleperformance, Ali Industries, Handyman Ace Hardware, the Fairborn Development Corporation and Soin Medical Center. Over 80 businesses participated including Fuyao, Kroger, Speedway, McDonald’s, Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, Meijer, I Supply and PSA Airlines. Over 1,000 attendees were attracted to participate in the event.
While the assets mentioned can help transform the City into a new Reimagined Fairborn, what sets the community apart in my opinion is its small town charm. This city is lucky to have a traditional and picturesque downtown which offers unique shops, eating places, special events and the downtown atmosphere. In recent years the city itself has tried to reimagine this downtown charm with a downtown streetscape upgrade. This upgrade included infrastructure improvements, a façade update program and an improved cosmetic enhancement to the entrance, flower pots and beds, lighting and so on. Cosmetically, it has a main street with wide sidewalks, attractive store fronts and small businesses not found in shopping malls such as the Inside Scoop, Terri Lynn’s Art Studio, the Flag Store and the Happy Scrapper, in addition to long time favorites such as Foy’s, Giovanni’s and Ticket’s . To enhance the small town atmosphere, the community regularly holds special events downtown such as the Farmer’s market the Zombie walk, car shows, tree lighting at Christmas and recently the Fourth of July parade.
While the city has much to celebrate, it will also have to reinvest in itself. Over time communities and regions change. Some of these changes can help a community while others provide more challenges which need to be addressed. Thankfully community leaders began to recognize this issue a number of years ago and began some strategic investments in order to create the reimagined Fairborn.
Fairborn has been a great community for 65 years, providing a supportive quality of life for its residents and a stable atmosphere for the business community. As the community evolves with new residents and businesses alike, the city has a chance to reinvent itself as the city of the future while also retaining its unique charm and tradition.
Paul Keller is a Fairborn City Councilman and guest columnist.
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