LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — A half dozen Lorain County towns are collaborating to attract visitors and customers to their main street communities. A single guide will feature businesses, events and attractions from Amherst, Elyria, Oberlin, Lorain, Vermilion and Wellington.
“It helps our marketing dollars, which are always stretched. It helps them go further. And it promotes the same message: that small towns are worth a visit,” explained Marilou Suszko, the executive director of Main Street Vermilion.
The joint effort between the main streets and the Lorain County Convention and Visitors Bureau will produce a brochure and map of Lorain, Amherst, Oberlin and Wellington along the Route 58 corridor, as well as Vermilion to the west and Elyria to the East, illustrating what the towns have to offer. Many say it’s mutually beneficial for all of the participating main streets.
“My feeling is that if Main Street Amherst is successful then possibly Oberlin and Wellington and Lorain and Elyria will be successful as well,” said Main Street Amherst Director Teresa Gilles.
Suszko added, “You come to Vermilion and you’ve got the lighthouse, you’ve got the water. The other communities don’t have that. But you go to Oberlin and you’ve got a big art community. And we don’t have that.”
Small businesses are also looking forward to expanding their visibility and supporting the local economy.
“Our communities thrive on local businesses,” said Faye Bishop, a vendor at Main Street Antiques in Oberlin. “We get people from all over the state and even out of state. They want to know about the restaurants, some of them want to know about hotels. So it definitely helps the community.”
Gilles added, “When you shop in our local businesses right here in Lorain County, the money is going right back into Lorain County. And you’re helping a local family because that’s how they make their money.”
Many who live and work in Lorain County said the investment in small town main streets has been a hallmark of the county in recent years.
“We have great stories to tell. And I think that’s what people are looking for these days - what are the stories behind your community? And we all have them,” said Suszko. “Nobody builds small, historic downtowns anymore. This is it. You have to take care of it or forever lose it.”
The brochures will be available at each of the featured main streets, as well as the Lorain County Visitors Center.
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