Community Members Visit Findlay

November 26, 2019 / 5 mins read

Contact: Melissa Ford

For Immediate Release

Date: 11/26/19

Community Members Visit Findlay

On an early morning in October, a group of 25 Wabash County community members, convened by the Community Foundation and Grow Wabash County, boarded a bus that would transport them to Findlay, Ohio’s Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) for an inter-city visit. Despite the early, chilly morning, the group was eager to learn about Findlay, the CCE, and the reason this city of 41,000 residents has been named the top micro-politan city the past five years. The city’s success has even birthed the term, the “Findlay Formula.”

Why visit Findlay and the Center for Civic Engagement? The city of Findlay in Hancock County, Ohio is similar to Wabash County because of its manufacturing roots, historic downtown, amenities, and connections to a local University. Why then, has Findlay been continually recognized for its success? The people in the community know how to communicate and collaborate to reach their goals and tackle their challenges. It hasn’t always been easy. It has taken time and effort to build relationships and cross-sector collaboration. One way in which this cross-sector collaboration has been facilitated is with the Center for Civic Engagement, which was established in 2016 to help guide the County’s newly formed priority issues. These issues included workforce development, mental health, housing, food security, health, safety, transportation, and literacy. Around each priority issue, a coalition of community members was formed. Today, the coalitions meet regularly, and there is an additional monthly meeting of all the coalition chairs to keep one another informed and engaged. The Center for Civic Engagement facilitates this process by providing support to these coalitions by means of meeting spaces, university resources, and a director, Leigh Zydonik, who oversees all coalitions.

It was Zydonik herself who greeted the Wabash County group upon arrival to the Center for Civic Engagement, housed in the University of Findlay. An entire day was planned for the group, filled with presentations by leaders of the Center for Civic Engagement, Economic Development group of Findlay-Hancock County, the Community Foundation and United Way, and Raise the Bar, a workforce development program developed out of the Center for Civic Engagement. In the afternoon, the group also had the opportunity to watch a meeting between the leaders of the coalitions.

Key takeaways from Findlay included learning the process of how to effectively collaborate among different community sectors (such as housing and health etc.) and learning how to streamline community efforts. For example, Findlay’s workforce development coalition program called Raise the Bar, encompasses programs for children as young as pre-school to older adults. All programs are connected, and they prepare children and adults for the skills needed by employers in Hancock County.

The Community Foundation and Grow Wabash County are grateful for the individuals who attended the trip to Findlay and are especially thankful to the community leaders in Findlay who spent their day to help Wabash County. The lessons learned in Findlay will be incredibly valuable and helpful in Community Foundation, Grow Wabash County, and other community decision-making moving forward.