Group to become separate



Warren GROWs' first efforts to become a Main Street community were rejected.
BY AMANDA GARRETT
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN -- The Warren GROWs group is taking its first steps toward becoming an independent organization.
Warren GROWs -- Grassroots Revitalization of Warren -- has up to now operated under the auspices of the Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corp.
But WRAP director Anthony Iannucci has filed articles of incorporation with the state to allow Warren GROWs to become a separate agency.
"The plan from the beginning was to make Warren GROWs independent," said downtown businessman Thom Duma, Warren GROWs board president. "We will celebrate our first year in operation in March and it felt like the right time to make the progression."
Warren GROWs should have its incorporation papers around the beginning of February, Iannucci said.
Warren GROWs will continue to spearhead downtown revitalization efforts, while WRAP will focus its efforts on economic redevelopment citywide, Iannucci said.
Seeking recognition
A large part of Warren GROWs' efforts will involve making the city's downtown a nationally recognized historical community, Duma said.
Through financial grants and strategic planning, Heritage Ohio's Main Street Community program helps Ohio communities preserve historic sites while bringing new businesses into the community.
Warren GROWs' first efforts to become a Main Street community were rejected last November by Heritage Ohio.
In a letter sent to WRAP and Warren GROWs, the Main Street selection committee wrote that it felt "another year would mature the existing program in its mission and execution." The committee also suggested further development of grass-roots support and participation in training activities by members and staff.
Warren GROWs will apply in 2008 to become a Main Street community, Duma said.
Vacant positions
In the meantime, Warren GROWs is looking to fill two key positions that were vacated last year, Duma said.
Warren GROWs' first priority is to fill the position of chief fundraiser, which was vacated after Clyde "Skip" Cole unexpectedly died in October, Duma said.
Warren GROWs is also looking for a program manager to replace Michael Maggiano, who resigned in October.
"The program manager will be the public face of the organization, helping fill storefronts and revitalize downtown," he said.
WRAP will help handle the administrative duties of Warren GROWs, until a program manager is named, Iannucci said.
agarrett@vindy.com

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