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SXSW team asks for your questions

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MANSFIELD – Do you have questions about what could come next for Mansfield's central business district?

The 15 local leaders who attended the South by Southwest Conference in Austin TX, are holding a listening tour to get feedback from Richland County residents before implementing their plan. They want to know your questions, so they can move ahead.

Maybe you wonder how to make downtown Mansfield a better place? How Richland County can better support small businesses? How will public art be included in the plan?

Submit your question in the form below, and it could be answered during one of their listening tour stops. 

“This is a community project, and we want the community engaged,” said SXSW team member, Damien Beauford. “We thought with the listening tour it’d be a good way to get everybody engaged, get everybody’s voice at the table.”

The tour is free and open to the public. It kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 31 at the Renaissance Theatre, 138 Park Ave. West.

Other Listening Efforts

Prior to the public forum, listening boxes will be set up around Mansfield to gather feedback.

"We want feedback and buy-in from the public," said team member, Allie Watson. "Specifically we want to hear from people who go downtown on a regular basis to work, shop and dine. Their input will be considered as we prepare our plan for investment."

People are asked to submit a future news headline that they’d like to see in the city.

The boxes are placed at several locations including OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, Mansfield Richland Public Library, Relax It’s Just Coffee, Mansfield Area Y and Mansfield Senior High School.

"We want to make sure we hear from a diverse audience," Watson said. "We will gauge the response during the public forum at the Renaissance Theatre."

sxsw group photo

The Richland County Foundation sent 15 people to the SXSW conference in Austin, TX in March. 

Who is on the SXSW team?

The SXSW Team is made up of a  diverse group of local leaders, artists, the city engineer and even an architect.

The group is tasked with creating a new strategic plan and implementing it through their collaborative efforts.

They are focused on five key impact areas: city and walkability, food and entertainment, startups and technology, social impact and workplace culture.

Through this year, the core team of 15 will work with 28 advisors to sort through the ideas. By late 2018, they are expected to pitch the plan to the Richland County Foundation, which funded the SXSW trip.

This includes: Jay Allred, President Richland Source; Damien Beauford, Barber at BarberZ Inc.; Bob Bianchi, City of Mansfield Engineer; Benjamin Davis, UMADAOP Youth Development Coordinator; Aurelio Diaz, Case Manager Catalyst Life Services & Richland Newhope Industries Dance Instructor; Cameron Haring, Senior Global Product Manager Thermo Fisher Scientific; Jennifer Kime, CEO Downtown Mansfield Inc.; Nikki Lewis, Manager Richland Area Educational Foundation; Jodie Perry, President of Richland Area Chamber of Commerce and Richland Community Development Group; Leona Smith, Executive Coordinator North End Community Improvement Collaborative; Matthew Stanfield, Principal Architect at FiELD9; Jotika Shetty, Executive Director of Richland County Regional Planning Commission; Maura Teynor, Chief Advancement Officer Richland County Foundation; Chelsie Thompson, Executive Director Renaissance Performing Arts Association; and Allie Watson, Senior Community Investment Officer Richland County Foundation.

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The SXSW trip

It started on Thursday, March 8 when a team of strangers left for Austin, Texas.

They spent the following days gathering ideas from the giant festival of ideas and technology. and getting to know each other.

They came back with dozens of ideas, but when meeting for the first-time post-conference on March 28, they decided they needed to listen before moving forward.

Team member, Leona Smith and others had been bombarded with by intrigued friends, family and strangers: “What’s next?”

“There’s value in what people have to say, and it’s important for us to embrace the people who want to be a part of what we are doing,” she said in March.

The idea of the listening tour was born then, but the rest fell into place later.

The tour will kick off with one large event Thursday, May 31 and continue throughout June with smaller events.

Learn more and continue to follow along with blogs by the SXSW team at

This Solutions Journalism story is brought to you in part by the generous support of our Newsroom Partners: Spherion, Visiting Nurses Association, PR Machine Works, Nanogate/Jay Systems, DRM Productions, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, Richland Bank, Mechanics Bank, Area Agency on Aging, and many others. To learn more about Solutions Journalism at Richland Source click the "About Solutions Journalism."

Staff Reporter

Proud Pennsylvania native. Joined the staff in April 2017. Formerly Tracy Geibel.