FREDERICKTOWN — The Fredericktown Community Development Foundation is an example of community members coming together so great things can be accomplished.
“It can be done in a small town,” said board member Skip Lanz.
The foundation was organized in 1981, when the need arose to develop an industrial base for the area. Through its efforts, the WardKraft Co. came to the area; since then, the FCDF has supported such businesses as Dana Corp. and FT Precision Inc.
“The primary objective is to develop the industrial base of our community, because for every one job we bring in through manufacturing, we generate three additional jobs in the area,” said Terry Divelbiss, board member.
Initially, the foundation’s focus was on industry, but as its membership grew, so did the commitment to develop business in Fredericktown. Projects such as the Fredericktown Public Library construction, the downtown gazebo and the Community Day event were all efforts supported by the FCDF. It also supported businesses through utility improvements in water and sewer projects across Ohio 13.
One of the foundation’s first major projects was Community Day. The event was a turning point for the foundation’s mission, and incorporated businesses, professionals, residents, industries, churches and local officials in recognition of their role in the Fredericktown community.
“Community Day was a celebration of all the pluses of Fredericktown,” said Divelbiss. “We had industries in the Fredericktown area come out, we had display booths, equipment on display in the parking lot from Kokosing, we had speakers and food, and a host of activities going on.”
“Everyone had a part in the day,” said Lanz.
The result of such a widely attended event, he said, was recognizing the potential for growth in a small rural community.
Divelbiss said providing water and sewer for businesses to locate or expand across Ohio 13 was another important project for the foundation. Expansion had to occur to the west because there was no room to expand toward the east.
“In order to expand industry west of Ohio 13, we had to have sewer and water available,” he said. “We wouldn’t be able to do any industrial development if we didn’t have the water and sewer available.”
The project was a five-year undertaking, but when it was accomplished, the door was open to broader opportunities for industry.
“Fortunately, we got it accomplished before the fire at Dana. When the Dana fire hit, they had to make a decision on whether to stay in the community or not,” said Divelbiss. “The community really got behind the support to keep it here, but they had to have a location. Dana said they wanted to stay within the village corporation limits and that way annex a good chunk of property into the village, across Ohio 13.
“During the decision process, the foundation helped coordinate an effort to get letters to go to Dana’s home office up in Toledo, and we put a large sign up in front of the old Dana plant in support. The community came down when the sign was up and everyone signed it. We took a picture of the sign and also sent that to Dana,” said Divelbiss. “The community really supported it.”