Downtown Movers & Shakers

With so much happening downtown, who are the driving forces behind all of the changes? With the help of the About advisory board, we selected these 10 community leaders to put a spotlight on the positive changes they are making downtown. Here’s who is moving and shaking downtown:

With so much happening downtown, who are the driving forces behind all of the changes? With the help of the About advisory board, we selected these 10 community leaders to put a spotlight on the positive changes they are making downtown. Here’s who is moving and shaking downtown:

DOWNTOWN DEVELOPER: ROBERT TIMKEN

WHO: Managing director, Cormony Development LLC

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Board member, Downtown Canton Land Bank, ArtsinStark.

FAMILY: Married to Sara; three children

RESIDES: Plain Township

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Historic, diverse, vital

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
I’m always intrigued by the socio-economic diversity that downtown fosters and the extent to which people embrace it.That is quite a powerful thing.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
In a word, more. More people, more creativity, more opportunity, more expression of whatever it is that makes us uniquely downtown.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
The change I’m striving for is already taking place. People have begun to invest in new concepts and projects downtown that will create a sustainable lifestyle and fuel further economic and social growth.We took on the Hercules project downtown because the nature of the property created such a unique opportunity to explore a new mixed-use model for this community.The fact that it also created the benefit of an environmental remediation of a brownfield site really made it worth pursuing.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED DOWNTOWN?
I’m attracted to the opportunity that lies in leveraging the history and existing infrastructure of downtown Canton. The next chapter of Canton’s history is only now being imagined.

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ARTS DISTRICT CHAMPION: ROBB HANKINS

WHO: CEO: ArtsinStark, the County Arts Council

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Special Improvement District, Canton Development Partnership, Stark County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

FAMILY: Married to Claudette

RESIDES: Jackson Township

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Daring, reborn, artsy

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
I love that it’s totally being transformed by 26 art galleries and studios, 50 new works of public art and live music popping up everywhere.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
I hope that downtown living and new tourism finishes what the Canton Arts District and artists have begun — the creation of a vibrant, reinvented city center.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would divide downtown into five distinct neighborhoods: Arts District, Cultural/Civic Center, First Ladies’, Warehouse District and Stadium Park. And then to market the heck out of them.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED?
The greatest thing imaginable is seeing a community discover how to use the arts for economic development.

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MINORITY OUTREACH, NEW BUSINESS OWNER: MONIQUE COX-MOORE

WHO: Minority outreach coordinator for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted; co-owner, Cheese Louise (downtown eatery slated to open this year).

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: (current) National Committeewoman National Young Republicans, ystark! executive board member and membership chairman, MLK (Martin Luther King) Commission member, Stark County Minority Business Association member, NAACP executive board member, Votes for Women member, National Young Republican Federation Outreach Committee, YWCA executive board member, Fair Housing board member.

FAMILY: Married to Fred Moore; three children

RESIDES: Canton

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Underestimated too often

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
I love that Canton has now become a destination for young professionals, families and artists.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
I would like to see the continued growth of the southern corridor to the city.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Definitely more downtown living for young professionals. Plus retail outlets to complete our city as an excellent place to live, work and play.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED AND START YOUR BUSINESS DOWNTOWN?
I have been serving my community since I was 19 years old. I am passionate about the community of Canton, where my family and I reside. I take my energy, passion and love for this community and pour it right back into re-entry, jobs development, youth, women and young professionals through the boards and committees I serve on. My desire is to stay actively engaged in solutions that make Canton — and its families, small businesses and education institutions — successful. Canton has priceless, immeasurable assets to offer families, businesses, small businesses and young professionals. It is an honor to help in the progress. My family and I will continue to serve this community we love to live, work and play in.We are opening our business here.We believe! Cheese Louise, a gourmet grilled cheese and soup restaurant, is slated to open on Cleveland Avenue this year with partners Clifton Cox (my father) and Michael Harrer. We plan to give back to the community as business owners, offering excellent food, service and a family-friendly environment with a touch of Motown.

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BUSINESS OWNER, ARTS SUPPORTER: ALAN RODRIGUEZ

WHO: Owner of Jülz by Alan Rodriguez in downtown Canton and owner of Rodriguez’s House of Stones in downtown New Philadelphia

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Board of directors, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce; member, Canton Rotary; member, Mainstreet New Philadelphia.

FAMILY: Wife, Kathy; six children and three grandchildren

RESIDES: Hartville and New Philadelphia

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Evolving, forward-thinking, challenging

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
Downtown Canton has an eclectic blend of passionate stakeholders who truly care. It has its own unique culture, including good restaurants, entertainment, the Arts District, the Saturday Farmers’ Market, and special events like Vintage Canton and the Blues Festival.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
That downtown Canton will continue to evolve on all levels. The Arts District started the revitalization years ago. Hopefully, it inspires the next generation of arts-related professions, such as architectural firms, advertising agencies, web designers, studio photographers, marketing firms and interior designers to locate in downtown Canton. I hope it will also inspire more urban housing and related businesses. I have great memories of the Arcade Market and would hope that a stronger housing population could support a newer version of that market.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Downtown Canton has a professional population of over 10,000. That’s more than the population of many nearby cities. I’d like the perception of downtown Canton to become one of optimism and opportunity.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED AND KEEP YOUR BUSINESS IN CANTON?
I have been a downtowner my entire life, beginning with grade school at St. John the Baptist. After college, I returned to Canton, working for 11 years downtown until purchasing the House of Stones in 1987. Twenty years later I came back, opening Jülz in 2007. Many of the downtown events, including First Fridays, have increased awareness of the Jülz brand. Thankfully, every year we’ve had successful growth and larger market share.

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DOWNTOWN PRESERVATIONIST/DEVELOPER: MARSH BELDEN

WHO: Trust manager, Eagle Realty LLC

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Downtown Canton Land Bank, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce

RESIDES: North Canton

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: History, character, convenience

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
Primarily its history and character.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
My best hope is to leave it a better place so future generations can enjoy the rich heritage this town has to offer.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
One word: Perception. Are there obvious challenges downtown — no doubt; however, none, to me, outweighs the forward momentum which is taking place right now with several large projects started or about to start. All of which will have very positive — hopefully transformative — effects on the entire community.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED DOWNTOWN?
Our family has always been downtown since the very early days of the city’s founding, so it is a place we are accustomed to living and working.

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COMMUNITY ADVOCATE: CHELI CURRAN

WHO: Director of the Children’s Network Child Advocacy Center for Stark County Job and Family Services

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Canton Ballet (vice president), Canton Museum of Art (second vice president), Ohio Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (treasurer), Stark County Children’s Services annual Heart Gallery, Stark County Traumatized Child Task Force, Stark County Human Trafficking Task Force, Stark County Victim’s Rights Coalition,Women’s Initiative Stark County (WIN), Stark County Exchange Club, Ystark!, Walsh University professional mentor.

FAMILY: Married to John; one daughter

RESIDES: Downtown Canton Arts District

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: History, creativity, community

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
This isn’t a neighborhood where you know just a few people personally and see them rarely.The Downtown Canton community works and plays together, builds and attends events and causes together. There’s a vibe down here of business innovation, artistic creativity and neighborly cooperation. There are many great stories in the history of this city. I recommend a walk with Canton Food Tours to learn more about Canton’s colorful history as told through its architecture and cuisine. Stroll — or ride our new bike lanes — along our art, furniture and jewelry galleries. Catch some touring bands you never heard before — but will be glad you did — over at Buzzbin or Auricle.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
Hope? Around here you’ll find that hope has evolved into concrete plans. Sure there’s improvements waiting to be made but I can personally direct you to more than a few people who are already analyzing the issues, planning the solutions and empowering the dreams for our next generation.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Perception. Canton has already made many significant and positive changes over the past decade. Perhaps more people can come down and take a closer look and join in on all the downtown has to offer to businesses, tourists, and folks just looking for something fun to do and see.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED?
Why not? City centers play an important role in the American landscape … and the city of Canton has contributed an important role in America’s history.This is our chance to contribute to Canton’s future. My family lives downtown, works downtown, plays downtown, studies downtown. Here we have immediate access and exposure to a wide array of arts and culture and a motivated community.Teamwork is the cornerstone of my professional career, and down here I feel part of a great team even when the workday is done.

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COMMUNITY SERVANT: MARILYN THOMAS JONES

WHO: Director of community engagement for Stark Community Foundation

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Aultman College of Nursing and Health Sciences board of trustees, Aultman Women’s Board, National Board of the National First Ladies’ Library, Arts In Stark, the Association of Governing Boards, Junior League of Stark County, immediate past chairman of the President’s Advisory Board for Stark State College, founding member of Project Wheelbarrow, founding member of Timken Company Toastmasters International

FAMILY: One daughter, Elizabeth-Burton Jones (a graduate school student at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.)

RESIDES: Canton

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Resourceful, relevant, renaissance

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
Downtown Canton is exciting when you spend time in it and not just go through it! I have lived and worked in every quadrant of the city of Canton including downtown Canton. I have a standing appointment at Aura Salon and Spa located on Market Avenue. I eat lunch and dinner at downtown restaurants. I do my banking downtown. I watch movies at the beautiful Palace Theatre. I have spent time in the Cultural Center since it was built and served on several boards there. My paternal ancestors have been in Canton since 1902 and my maternal ancestors came in 1942. My daughter is a fifth-generation Cantonian.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
I hope that the renaissance continues and people understand the importance of varied views and visions, and the important role volunteerism has played in the success of Canton. My hope is that people will contribute their time, talent and treasure for the betterment of downtown, in an effort to give continued momentum to said renaissance. My hope is that people commit to a shared vision for downtown Canton.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Today if I could change one thing about Canton, I would change the number of boarded-up houses in the city. How do you think visitors to our city react to boarded-up houses? More importantly — how do you think the citizens who keep their property well-maintained and pay their taxes (taxes that impact our city schools) react to the boarded-up houses near their property? One reaction we do not need is a loss of population because homeowners choose to move because of the boarded-up houses.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED?
Canton has a wonderful history — and the people have made Canton what it is today. Have there been challenges along the way? Absolutely! Through it all – we have persevered. I am involved because I want others to be involved. I am involved because I want my daughter and other young people to realize that Canton is a great place to live, learn, work, raise a family and play. I want them to know that the great education they receive in Canton is indeed the cornerstone for future successes. I am involved because I want young people to be able to look back and realize that the people who volunteered for programs they participated in, the education, the support, the educators, the mentors, are a part of who they have become — and hopefully they will take the baton being offered to them and choose to get involved in planning Canton’s future successes.

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DOWNTOWN MUSIC SCENE CATALYST: MIKE NASVADI

WHO: Owner of the Buzzbin Art & Music Shop

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Founding member of the Downtown Canton Bike Club, board member of nonprofit Canton literary publisher Indigo Ink Press.

FAMILY: Married to Kendra; four children

RESIDES: Massillon

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Creative person’s dream

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
I love the personality of downtown. The people involved are all hard workers and so genuine. I also like that it is a growing city. Things move forward daily downtown. For example, now we have bike lanes. New businesses are popping up all over the place in repurposed storefronts. It is an exciting city to have a business in.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
I hope more people take notice of what is happening in this art-based community and join in. Whether it be visiting one of the many restaurants and galleries or seeing a show downtown. Or even opening up a business of their own.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I’d change the negative connotation that downtown is an unsafe place to be. Maybe a decade ago that was true, but for the most part downtown is a great place to come and hang out.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED AND KEEP YOUR BUSINESS IN CANTON?
To answer this question, I have to tip my hat to organizations like Arts in Stark, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, and all the willing landlords downtown. These guys are here to help move things along. You’re not just a business, you are a part of a team, and they make that well-known.

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ARTS, TOURISM PROMOTER: GEORGIA PAXOS

WHO: Executive director, Canton Palace Theatre Association

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Leadership Stark County – 26th Class; Arts in Stark 2020 Vision – Operating Committee and Tourism Committee; Daughters of Penelope —Debutantes Ball ticket co-chairman.

FAMILY: Married to Mike; two sons (Kostas, 8, and Minas,7)

RESIDES: Plain Township

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Alive, exciting, safe

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
I love the collaboration and camaraderie among all the businesses and restaurants. We are all happy to promote each other’s events and work toward making downtown a great place to work, eat and play; it’s like having your extended family near that you can lean on. I love that St. Peter’s School gives my kids the opportunity to utilize the Stark County District Library as their school library, the Canton Symphony as their school music program and attend great performances at the Players Guild and Palace Theatre as field trips. This is only possible by having so many attractions so close to the school. We are so fortunate to have so much history all around us. I love the commitment from the community to ensure the progress of downtown. It is great to have the Special Improvement District, Arts in Stark and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce all working toward innovative approaches to redevelopment of the area.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
I hope through the efforts of those who are invested in downtown, we’re able to shed the misconception that downtown is dead or dying. In my six years at the Palace, we’ve made tremendous progress but we must confront that misconception every single day. Our restaurants have limited wait times and amazing, diverse cuisine; our art galleries are open to showcase the incredible talent of local artists; and the Palace marquee is shining; inviting you inside for a movie or event. My hope is that this resonates with people all over the county and we all stop taking for granted the opportunities for great experiences in downtown Canton. Canton is alive and well and waiting for everyone to enjoy it.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would love to see additional retail shopping in downtown. In many other cities, existing buildings are retrofitted by retailers for their stores. It would be a great opportunity to fill vacant buildings and bring additional foot traffic into the area.There are almost 10,000 people working in downtown Canton daily — being able to pop into a store during lunch or after work to get some shopping done would be wonderful.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED DOWNTOWN?
Not having grown up in the Canton area, I quickly discovered how much emotional connection so many of our residents have with the Palace Theatre. It’s now time for the next generation of preservationists and downtown enthusiasts to come into leadership roles and work toward making those emotional connections for their children and future generations. I personally, in conjunction with the Palace board of directors, staff and volunteers, want to continue doing our part to make this happen. I truly believe a vibrant downtown is a mark of a great community and we are well on our way to proving that.

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BUSINESS OWNER COMMUNITY LEADER: DAVE GRABOWSKY

WHO: President/owner, Standard Plumbing and Heating Co. and Sheetmetal Crafters

COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES: Canton Rotary Club, Canton Calvary Mission board, Downtown Canton Land Bank board, Canton Construction board, Camp Tippecanoe board, Downtown Canton YMCA board, member of the Church of the Lakes United Methodist Church; also supporter of ArtsinStark, Stark County United Way, Stark Community Foundation and Downtown Canton Blues Festival.

FAMILY: Married to Laura; four children

RESIDES: Hills and Dales village

THREE WORDS TO DESCRIBE DOWNTOWN CANTON: Evolving, dynamic, historical

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?
I love the architecture. I also enjoy knowing that Standard Plumbing and Heating and three generations of my family, since 1912 , have been located downtown.We have made contributions to almost every building that is located in the downtown area.

WHAT IS YOUR HOPE FOR DOWNTOWN?
I hope that it can flourish as a real urban center — a place where people can live downtown and enjoy the restaurants, arts and activities; to make ourselves comparable to the highest quality and culture of any large, dynamic Midwestern city. This is beginning to occur and it is exciting.

IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU COULD CHANGE ABOUT THE CITY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Our vision on what we can become.We have a huge advantage over other communities in that we are the “Hall of Fame” city. We need to transfer those concepts and energy into our future development. Let us use our football reputation to develop this theme to make Canton a national destination stop.

WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BE INVOLVED AND KEEP YOUR BUSINESS DOWNTOWN?
The future of this country is the redevelopment of urban centers. I want to be a part of this transformation.We have occupied our present building (at Standard Plumbing) for almost 100 years. It has outstanding character and has brought us good fortune over this time period. In addition, the future of our area will reside in the development of the cities. I want to help to continually improve our downtown area.

WE ASKED: WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT DOWNTOWN?

Karol Noftsinger Glick: Bender’s!

Cindee Aronhalt: Thatsa Wrapp

Hattie Newman: the arts!

Tricia Ostertag: First Friday and the Canton Arts District!

Pam Oster: Of course who doesn’t love seeing all the building renewal! Finally the great historic buildings are being saved and revitalized. Nothing could be without that start. Much respect to those who got that started once upon a time. I love the heart and soul of those who believe in downtown — it is contagious! The local business owners, the folks who work for them (and beyond) can all be applauded for a job well done. I worked in a local restaurant for some of the earliest First Fridays as they took off and while I have not done that in years, I have been a downtowner for all these years later. It’s exciting to see the interest in living downtown again!

Jess Bowden: So many things … art galleries, Grapes in A Glass, First Friday,Thatsa Wrapp’s beers and homemade chips … and on and on.

Christina Stanley Morello: I love the fact that the NFL started in our downtown, with a bunch of guys sitting on bumpers in an automobile showroom. It’s a great story with a hometown hero, Ralph E. Hay. You can’t tell the story of pro football without including Hay, a pioneer who organized the game. Canton is home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but downtown Canton is where the NFL was born.

Christina Furney: My 2-year-old LOVES driving downtown and she gets excited about the things she sees. First it’s the yellow duck off in the distance, with the silver goldfish sculpture, then her FAVORITE, the blue monkey, then the water fountain, bell, water ball then the water again! It totally makes her day.

Eric Smer: Canton Club, First Ladies’ Library, courthouse angels, Central Plaza fountains, Huntington Plaza, Muggswigz, Carpe Diem, Basil, Picciano’s, Palace Theatre, Canton Food Tours, Fourth Street lights, George’s Lounge patio and grass-fed beef burgers, Buzzbin’s garage door “sound system,” 400 McKinley shops and apartments, Onesto, new YMCA, Farmers’ Market, Court Avenue brick and pillars, the infamous Robb Hankins or John Werren walking tour …

A Modern Day Cake: Canton Club Event Center for sure!

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass