The Innovators: Lance Willard

As has become The Business Journal’s custom during the month of May, designated as National Small Business Month, we ask readers to tell us who is worthy of recognition. This time, we asked readers to nominate innovators – the risk takers, out-of-box thinkers and the status quo challengers.

Lance Willard
City Manager, City of Columbiana

COLUMBIANA – The city of Columbiana has gone through an amazing transformation over the past several years. The population has increased and there are new businesses, homes and restaurants. The downtown that began in 1805 is vibrant once again.

There is no question that City Manager Lance Willard is the driving force behind what has happened here, and what changes will take place in the future.  The Community Reinvestment Act tax abatement program was the catalyst. However it was Willard who marketed and managed the city’s comprehensive plan.

His work as an innovator takes him beyond the comfort zone of normal city business responsibilities. It was Lance who reached out to the high school entrepreneurship class for them to recommend several exciting modernization changes to the downtown. Today, two of those plans have been implemented and one is in the planning stages.

When the future of the Main Street Theater was in doubt, he organized community and business leaders to save this cultural center for future generations.

Nominated by Rick Noel.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.