Downtown Warren Stakeholders Form New Alliance

WARREN, Ohio – Downtown stakeholders are in the process of assembling a new organization to encourage further development and promote activity in the city’s central business district.

Formation of the Downtown Warren Alliance is “in the very, very early stages,” according to Shawn Carvin, a member of the new organization’s steering committee and chairman of the group’s public relations committee.

The ball got rolling for the Downtown Warren Alliance at a meeting of downtown stakeholders at the Robins Theatre in November, said Carvin, executive director of the Ohio Land Bank Association and a downtown Warren resident. About 40 individuals attended the meeting.

The purpose of the Downtown Warren Alliance is to continue “the developments happening downtown” and to “shine a positive light” there in the wake of several news stories about downtown issues, according to Carvin.  

“We just wanted to make sure that we can show there’s a lot of positive things happening downtown and a lot of action happening, and to kind of promote some of those events,” he said. “Although organizations such as Trumbull 100 do a lot of work downtown. There hasn’t been a downtown-specific group for some time.”

Sara Daugherty, chief of staff at Brite Energy Innovators downtown and chairwoman of the alliance’s advertising and marketing committee, pointed to the activity taking place around the city and at Courthouse Square, where Brite is based, and is pleased that the new downtown group is taking time to develop.

“It’s important for us to know what’s going on and support our businesses. We have a lot of people coming from out of town for training or to see what’s going on in Warren,” Daugherty said.

“I’m very impressed with all the people that have come to the table that want to be a part of this. Being part of Warren for the last five years, this is the most inclusive and engaging effort to date.”

A survey conducted at the November meeting and emailed to other individuals identified several concerns and priorities for downtown stakeholders. The biggest issue they had was safety, with 56.3% citing crime perception and police presence, and another 25% citing homelessness.

Representatives of the group have been in discussions with city officials, including the police chief, Carvin said.

“This is the perfect opportunity to create that coalition that can speak with one voice, working hand in hand with each other in the local government to keep this momentum moving forward,” said Eddie Colbert, Warren director of public safety and service.

Now that the group has the survey results, it is beginning to work on marketing strategies and “campaigns of things we’re going to work on addressing,” Carvin said. Among the projects that many people are interested in is establishing a downtown outdoor refreshment area, or DORA, that would permit open alcoholic beverage containers “in a very, very regulated way.”

Representatives of the Warren group have met with city officials in Columbiana, which has such a district in place, and the DORA would require securing necessary permits, he said.

When a previous DORA proposal was presented to the city, there were “a lot of assumptions of what it would look like in practice,” some of which he found “not necessary to be accurate,” Colbert recalled.

Colbert expects the group behind the current proposal to “do its due diligence” and have both downtown residents and business owners “come to a conclusion on what they believe would be most advantageous” to retail and entertainment development as well as residential living before presenting it to City Council.

Such districts have increased by 300% statewide in the past two years, Carvin said.

“They’re becoming a much more regular thing in communities because of the economic impact it has,” he said. He expects a proposal to go to City Council in the near future.

So far, the group has just shy of 70 members, and more are being sought, Carvin said.

Individuals invested in joining the organization can email

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