October 26, 2021

SALENA ZITO: A Small Town That’s Doing It Right.

Mr. Maraffa said what makes Columbiana work is two-fold. First, the downtown isn’t all office space where people come to work and then leave; instead, it is a balanced mix of restaurants and personal services. The other thing is a well-balanced portfolio of small industries that employ 25 to 80 people each; there is no single, giant company that employs half the town of 6,300, making their fortunes reliant on the success of that one industry.

Like many young people who leave their hometown for college, Nick Baylor figured when he went to Milligan University in Tennessee several years ago that Columbiana might become a place for him to return to for family visits and nothing more.

Instead, the 26-year-old fourth-generation Columbianan said he found himself wanting to be part of the action two years ago when he came home for a visit and discovered more young people had decided to stay.

“I came back at a good time,” he said, “and I decided to stay around because of how much had happened — and honestly, I wanted to contribute to the growth that has been happening here.”

The really interesting thing about Columbiana is that the population does not skew older — there are plenty of Nick Baylors with young families who have come back to raise their kids in the place they called home.

Unlike the nearby cities of Youngstown, East Liverpool and Steubenville, Columbiana’s population has grown over the past decade.

Read the whole thing.

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