JOHNSTOWN — In its first year as a city, the growing community of Johnstown braces for potentially the fastest pace of development in its history.

Two business owners decided that expected growth makes it the right time to create a Johnstown Chamber of Commerce to improve communication, education and networking among city businesses.

Jesse Coppel, owner of Johnstown Title, and Tiffany Hollis, owner of Dashing Diner, sent out about 100 invitations to gauge interest in starting a chamber, 16 years after the last one folded.

The inaugural meeting attracted about 50 people Thursday to Gather, an event space downtown. The fledgling organization already has 30 members.

“We’re excited because we had such a great response from the community,” Coppel said. “I know it’s going to be a success.

“Everybody knows Johnstown will be changing a lot. We’ve got a lot of development coming in. Coordinating with new development will be important. We can do it in a stronger way by acting collectively.”

Hollis said there are already many more businesses in Johnstown than most residents even realize.

“I’ve wanted to do this for at least two or three years,” Hollis said. “I feel it’s important for a business owner in Johnstown. It’s important to have a hub where all business owners go.

“We have such a diverse group of businesses. It’s exciting and we should be proud of it. A lot of businesses could benefit from each other, some that we don’t even know exist. There are more businesses here now and we need this.”

The former village officially became a city on Oct. 21, 2021, after the 2020 census showed its population had exceeded 5,000. The village had 3,440 residents in 2000, and 4,644 in 2010. The 2020 census results show it had 5,182.

Then, on Jan. 21, Intel Corporation announced plans to build a $20 billon computer chip manufacturing facility a few miles south of Johnstown on Jersey Township land to be annexed into New Albany. It is possible this stage is just the first part of a $100 billion investment by the company. The company expects to hire 3,000 employees, and the project is expected to create 7,000 construction jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs.

“I think it’s perfect timing for us for business owners to organize and grow Johnstown collectively,” Coppel said. “We still have a lot of work to do. Our goal is to have things up and going by 2023. We want everybody to be involved.”

In 2006, the Johnstown Area Chamber of Commerce folded for financial reasons after its membership dwindled from 118 to 80 in a four-year period.

Denise Blankemeyer, owner of downtown Johnstown businesses Ghostwrite Public House restaurant and Crow Works, a designer/builder of commercial furniture for hospitality spaces, welcomed the idea of creating a chamber of commerce.

“It’s very exciting,” Blankemeyer said. “I think it’s definitely needed.”

Steve Matheny, executive director of the Granville Area Chamber of Commerce, attended the meeting to provide support and advice for the new chamber. He said local communities should cooperate to prepare for the Intel development.

“We’re not competing with each other,” Matheny said. “We’re really collaborating. We’re all in this together. I don’t know if that’s always been the case, but it is now. I think it’s a great move on your part.”

Coppel said the new chamber will be able to provide more for Johnstown than the county chamber.

Source : Newark Advocate

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