If I could do it all over again…

ReflectingThis year marked my eighteenth year with OSU Extension and 28 years overall in public service. It seems like just yesterday that I started my public administration career as a 21-year-old administrative assistant. Now that I am considered one of the ‘more-seasoned’ professionals with the organization, I have had the opportunity to mentor a number of Extension colleagues. Reflecting on what I wish I’d have known when first starting out, for the benefit of our newer hires I have developed and shared a number of items, some of which are listed below.

  1. Don’t overcommit. Our calendars can fill up quickly.  I caution you to be comfortable first with your chosen expertise and the amount of time you have dedicated to it before you decide to take on additional responsibilities.
  2. Find an encouraging mentor. It is important to be able to share your concerns with someone you can trust. A positive mentor can help with your focus and provide a sounding board when you are in need of a listening ear.
  3. Get to know your co-workers. It goes without saying that you can very easily spend more time with your co-workers than your family. It is important to get to know them personally and to be able to share success stories with them.
  4. Celebrate an achievement. It is okay to celebrate after completing a project. In Extension, we often go on to the next project without stopping for a moment to enjoy what we just completed.
  5. Understand your career goal. We all can get caught up in the day-to-day work style and before you know it, a year is almost over. Take time to think about your career goals and create plans to achieve them.
  6. Before moving on to another project or class to teach, take a few minutes every day to reflect on what you are doing and what you want to do going forward. Think about how these tasks and activities advance your career plans.
  7. Have fun, learn to laugh, and improvise when needed. One time I thought I sent my PowerPoint slides to the moderator for a presentation at an international conference but evidently forgot. Instead of panicking in front of 50 people, I took a deep breath and rolled with it. Thinking that the presentation was terrible, many in the audience came up to me after and thanked me for not having a PowerPoint as they were tired of seeing them and welcomed the change.
  8. Step outside your comfort zone. Sometimes we can get too comfortable where we are. If you begin to feel that is happening to you, look for ways to step out beyond your comfort zone. When your work no longer inspires at work, it is time to expand your horizons.
  9. Join a professional organization and become an active member. I learned a long time ago that professional organizations can be a great place to meet fellow professionals and allow you time to learn from others. Attend and present at the conferences. Serve in leadership roles.
  10. Lead the way. In any situation, a leader is very important. If you have ever found yourself in a situation where no one is leading, guess what? It is time for you to step-up. As they say, sometimes the first step is often the hardest.

I have others that I could easily share, but I will stop at 10 and wait to hear from you. Take a minute and in the comment section below, add your best advice to the list.

Thanks and Happy Holidays!

David CivittoloDavid Civittolo is an associate professor and field specialist, community economics, OSU Extension CD.

The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University.

NACDEP 2018 Conference- That’s a wrap!

NACDEP 2018 logo

What started out as a casual conversation among friends in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the 2014 NACDEP Conference recently culminated with over 180 Community Development professionals gathering in Cleveland for the 2018 NACDEP Conference. The carefully planned and executed agenda allowed time for participants to enjoy Cleveland, renew old friendships, make new connections, and most importantly engage in an excellent agenda for personal and professional development.

Ben Bebenroth – Chef, Farmer, Founder of Spice Hospitality Group, engages a full house during the closing session.

The program included keynote sessions with thought- provoking speakers, concurrent session presentations by Community Development colleagues from Ohio and from across the nation, poster sessions filled with great ideas, mobile learning workshops which took place throughout Cleveland, and opportunities to informally connect with our friends and colleagues.

They say that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I say it takes a complete team to create an exceptional conference. That team included my colleagues from Ohio State University Extension, Community Development.  Many of them worked countless hours to ensure a first- rate experience for attendees. To them all, I say, “Thank you and job well done!”

While I cannot recognize all of them by name here, I would especially like to highlight the conference planning subcommittee chairs:

  • Speakers: Anne Johnson and Myra Wilson
  • Publicity: Alice Hutzel-Bateson and Meghan Thoreau
  • Hospitality: Jared Morrison, Sandy Odrumsky and Amanda Osborne
  • Mobile Learning Workshops/Tours: Amanda Osborne and Lauren Vargo
  • Concurrent Sessions: Cindy Bond and Becky Nesbitt
  • Sponsorship: Kyle White

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not recognize my conference planning committee co-chair, Greg Davis. Greg’s leadership provided an outlet and an opportunity to engage us as Community Development professionals that ultimately created an excellent conference. Thanks, Greg.

See you next year in Asheville (North Carolina), June 9-12!

If you want to learn more about NACDEP 2018, contact:

David CivittoloDavid Civittolo
NACDEP President
Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics

Ready to Rock? . . . It’s almost time for the NACDEP 2018 Conference!

NACDEP 2018 Logo

Logo photo courtesy of:
ThisisCleveland.com and
Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.

Before you know it, Community Development professionals from across the country will be gathering in Cleveland for the 2018 NACDEP Conference! The speakers are confirmed. Session proposals are being reviewed. Final changes have been made to the pre- and post-conference workshops, as well as Tuesday afternoon’s mobile learning workshops. Interested in attending?

Registration is now open. NACDEP Member early bird rate is $450 now through April 30, after which it increases to $485.

Make your reservations at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, our historic conference venue in downtown Cleveland

Before you register, review the selection of pre-conference workshops, post-conference workshops, and mobile learning workshops to decide which you would like to attend.

NACDEP logoDon’t forget – if you know of someone who might be interested in contributing as a sponsor, please direct them to the conference sponsorship page.

OSUE Community Development could not be more excited about how things are coming together for our 2018 Cleveland experience and want to thank all of the planning team members and the dozens of proposal reviewers for their hard work so far. See you in Cleveland, recently named as one of the ‘Best of the World’ by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine! Read more about that here.

Still not sure if you want to come to Cleveland? Check out this video.

 If you want to learn more about NACDEP 2018 contact David Civittolo (civittolo.1@osu.edu).

David CivittoloDavid Civittolo is an Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics.

Communities that Rock! NACDEP Conference coming to Cleveland!!!

During the holiday season a lot of planning takes place, whether to ensure a successful holiday dinner party or finding the perfect gifts for family and friends.

NACDEP 2018 logo

Logo photo courtesy of:
ThisisCleveland.com and Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.

Just like the holiday season, Extension Community Development professionals have been busy planning activities for the upcoming NACDEP Conference (#nacdep18). June 10-13 we will be hosting over 250 Extension professionals in Cleveland, Ohio. And in the midst of planning, we continue to uncover neat things about our host city, most recently that Cleveland has been named as one of the ‘Best of the World’ places to visit by the National Geographic Traveler Magazine! Read more about that here.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Exciting mobile learning workshops are planned that include a trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center, Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream, and a visit to Stone Laboratory (on Gibraltar Island) just to name a few. How about joining us for a guided bike tour of the Cleveland Metroparks‘ recent community development projects (the Rivergate Park Riverfront Development Project and the Edgewater Beach Park Improvement Project)?

Mitchell's Ice Cream

Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream

If a boat ride sounds more your style, you can enjoy a scenic trip up the Cuyahoga River on the Cleveland Metroparks water taxi. The journey will start at Merwin’s Wharf, a Metroparks-owned pub located on the river in the heart of the city, and wind up the ‘Crooked River’ pausing to observe areas where river restoration actions have been implemented.

Merwin’s Wharf

Still not sure if you want to come to Cleveland? Check out this video.

If you want to learn more about NACDEP 2018 or help with the conference, visit the NACDEP website or contact conference co-chair David Civittolo, Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics (civittolo.1@osu.edu).


Communities that Rock! NACDEP Conference coming to Cleveland!!!

To borrow an old baseball phrase, “you’re on deck” means you are the next person to bat against the pitcher. As yet another reminder of the pace at which time passes, it does not seem all that long ago that Ohio was “on deck” to host the 2018 NACDEP Conference.

Now that the 2017 NACDEP Conference is behind us, it is our turn to bat.

NACDEP 2018 LogoIn June, 2018 (June 10-13 to be exact), Ohio State University Extension will be hosting over 250 practitioners, academics, and Extension professionals in Cleveland, Ohio to engage, learn and share how we make a difference in the communities in which we live and work.

The OSU Extension planning team has been hard at work for the last six months preparing for the conference.

Mobile learning workshops and pre-conference workshops and tours are being planned that include a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the city where rock was born), the Great Lakes Science Center, and a visit to Stone Laboratory (on Gibraltar Island) to name a few.

For our foodies we are also exploring food-related options such as a visit to a vineyard in Cleveland, a tour of the historic West Side Market, and dinner in ‘Little Italy’ where you can dine, recline, and catch up with colleagues.

Like Beer? Like local microbreweries? If so, you will enjoy learning about the Great Lakes Brewing Company and its famous Christmas Ale.

Are you ready to roll?  How about a short drive to visit Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world?

Still not sure if you want to come to Cleveland? Check out this video.

 If you want to learn more about NACDEP 2018 contact: David CivittoloAssociate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics (civittolo.1@osu.edu) and NACDEP 2018 Conference Co-Chair.

Time to Hit the Road: Business Retention and Expansion Heads South

What do Macedonia and the Ukraine have in common and how are these countries similar to Indiana, New York, South Dakota and Florida? For good measure, let’s add Guam too (the tiny U.S. island territory in Micronesia in the Western Pacific).

Still not sure?

Answer: Ohio State University Extension Community Development professionals have delivered, shared and taught Ohio’s Business Retention and Expansion program curriculum in all of them!

As recently as two weeks ago, Extension CD professionals David Civittolo and Joe Lucente visited with colleagues at the University of Florida to deliver a three-day train the trainer program. Twelve University of Florida Extension agents learned the nuts and bolts of the traditional BR&E program and were also introduced to a newly-revised curriculum module: BR&E for Agri-business.

Since the 12 attendees were mostly Agriculture agents, the curriculum enabled them to better understand how to conduct a BR&E program focusing exclusively on agri-business clusters.

A highlight of the program was that the agents conducted actual business visits using an agribusiness questionnaire that they helped create. After the business interviews, the agents presented the information that would be most useful to the local stakeholders and the business community they surveyed.

For example, one business indicated during an interview that they needed assistance purchasing more locally grown vegetables for their high-end restaurant. As a result of the interview, Florida Extension agents were able to put the owner in touch with a local greenhouse that is in a position to provide more locally grown vegetables.

Since 1986, OSU Extension has partnered with local officials and residents in 155 communities located in 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties to better inform community decisions and help existing businesses grow and expand. To learn more about the program, the BR&E materials and how we can help your community contact David Civittolo or go.osu.edu/BRnE.

David Civittolo is an Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics. He co-leads OSU Extension’s Community Economics Team.

It’s time to rock and roll – NACDEP Conference coming to Cleveland!!!

Image - Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame

How do you build team, showcase some of the amazing work being done by colleagues throughout the organization, and become more engaged in your professional association? You propose hosting the association’s annual conference in your state!

On behalf of Extension CD professionals throughout Ohio, I am pleased to announce that Ohio has been selected as the site of the 2018 National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) Conference.

Please consider joining over 250 of your Extension colleagues from throughout the country as they engage in conversations, workshops and tours focused on local foods, urban programs, leadership development, economic development, and much much more.

Need more reasons to participate? With a nod to David Letterman, here are the top ten reasons you will want to attend NACDEP in Cleveland in June 2018:

10. Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – its only rock and roll but I like it

9.   TameImage - Cedar Point the roller coasters at Cedar Point Amusement Park

8.   Life is a beach- enjoy visiting the Lake Erie Islands

Image - Cleveland Waterfront7.   Visit the Great Lakes Science Center – See, touch and explore! Enjoy amazing hands-on science exhibits, immerse yourself in a six-story OMNIMAX Theater, explore the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, and climb aboard the Steamship William G. Mather

6.   See urban farming up close with a personal tour of a vineyard

5.   Learn about the Global Center for Health Innovation Project– a focal point for the healthcare industry

Image - West Side Market4.   Visit Cleveland’s historic West Side Market– a century-old market where immigrants and shoppers have come for decades to find the dishes and spices of their home country

3.   Enjoy fine cuisine during a visit to the “Little Italy” neighborhood where you can dine, recline, and catch up with colleagues

Image - Playhouse Square2.   Take in a show at Playhouse Square– a collection of ten performance spaces, including five theaters restored to their original 1920s elegance



And the number one reason to attend the 2018 NACDEP Conference is……………………………….

It’s time to ignite!  Enlighten us, but make it quick. Come and watch colleagues as they get 5 minutes and 20 slides to tell a compelling story.

Still not sure if you want to come to Cleveland? Check out this video.

David Civittolo is serving as the conference committee co-chair and is an Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist for Community Economics.

Retail Market Analysis Program: Community assessment and considerations

What economic sector employs more than 1 million Ohioans in over 120,000 establishments and either directly and indirectly supports 1 in 4 Ohio jobs ? That would be the Ohio retail sector which is also directly and indirectly responsible for almost 18% of Ohio’s Gross Domestic Product.

An economic sector of such importance should be the focus of ongoing attention and, as discussed in a prior blog post, can benefit from a Retail Market Analysis (RMA). RMA is a tool that identifies retail market trends within a local community and informs local and regional development strategies designed to build and strengthen this critical economic sector.

Does your community need an RMA? Review the checklist below to determine if so. While there is no correct score to help you decide whether it is time to conduct an RMA, the conversation stimulated by this checklist should be fairly informative.

  • RMA 2016-03-10Does your community’s main street have empty retail store fronts?
  • Have retail businesses closed and no one is sure why? Was it possibly preventable? What could have been done?
  • Are retail jobs created and/or retained by local businesses being tracked, measured and reported? How?
  • Does your community have a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy? If yes, is an RMA included?
  • Is there an identified person who acts as the economic development coordinator that could lead and conduct an RMA? Who is it (are they)?
  • How would you describe the working relationship between elected/appointed officials and the retail merchants?
  • Are new retail businesses moving into or being created in the community?
  • How and to what extent is data relevant to the local economy being collected from retail businesses on a regular basis?
  • To what degree is existing data being analyzed to assess trends?

After reviewing responses to this list, it may soon become apparent that your community is not paying enough attention to the retail sector.

If you want to learn more about Retail Market Analysis and how it can help your community, contact: David Civittolo (civittolo.1@osu.edu), Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics.

Is it time for your community to conduct a Business Retention and Expansion Survey?

Header Combined

Has a company recently closed or downsized?
Does your downtown district have vacant buildings?
Has unemployment increased?

If you answered yes to any of the questions, perhaps it’s time for your community to conduct a Business Retention and Expansion survey.

A Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E) survey is a structured, locally implemented, action oriented economic development project aimed at stimulating economic development and growth by helping existing businesses. Research has shown that 60-80% of all new jobs come from existing businesses. Communities should review the checklist below to determine if it is time to conduct a BR&E. Note:  there is no correct score to determine if it is time for BR&E; rather, communities should have conversations pertaining to these items. That will let them know if it is time to conduct a BR&E survey.

  • Has your community ever conducted a BR&E? If yes, when was the last time?
  • Does your community have a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy?
  • Has there been a change in elected officials/appointed officials?
  • Will the legislative body support a BR&E?
  • Has the financial condition of the community changed (high unemployment, many business cures)?
  • Do community officials have a working relationship with the top ten employers in the community?
  • Have businesses closed and no one is sure why?
  • Is there a local economic development agency that could help with the BR&E?
  • Are new business sectors moving into the community?
  • Has the State of Ohio created new Economic Development Tools?
  • Are new business technologies being maximized?
  • Has your zoning code had major modifications?
  • Have there been major changes in adjacent communities (business, farmland, unemployment)?
  • Has the social status of your community changed?
  • Have business transportation needs changed?
  • Does the community have sufficient open space for Economic Development?

After you review and discuss the list above, you can contact Ohio State University Extension, Community Development to learn more about the Business Retention and Expansion Program. Visit us at go.osu.edu/BRnE.

(Submitted by David Civittolo, Associate Professor and Extension Field Specialist, Community Economics)

Retail Market Analysis: A key tool in the economic development toolbox

Retail Market Analysis 2015-01-22It is something that we’ve all seen before. Some downtowns seem vibrant and full of life while others appear to be struggling to hold on. But why? In the United States, over 10 percent of all employed persons (more than 15 million people) are employed in the retail sector. In Ohio alone, over 650,000. While these employees provide a valuable service in retailing (who doesn’t like the hardware, bakery or jewelry stores?), the effects that a healthy retail sector can have on a community are immeasurable. So, what makes them work? We can learn more about this sector of a community’s economy via a Retail Market Analysis study.

What is Retail Market Analysis Program?

Retail market analysis is a tool for identifying retail market trends within a local community. While the analysis focuses specifically on the performance of local retail markets, information on the broader demographic and economic trends within the region is critical to understanding current and future changes in these retail markets. Changes in population, the age and income distributions of the population and the number of people employed by different industrial sectors affect the demand for retail goods within a local community. They are critical factors to be considered in such analyses.

Also important is understanding of the pattern of retail spending within a local community relative to spending in neighboring areas. A sales leakage could indicate that the local demand for a particular product is not being met within the local community, whereas sales surpluses may explain how a local community serves a regional market that actually pulls shoppers in from outside the local area. (How many of us drive some distance to purchase specific items?) Such surplus/leakage estimates provides a means to identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of an area’s retail markets and inform economic development strategies for local communities. A retail market analysis is not a detailed plan of action, but rather provides facts and analysis for input into the community’s decision-making process about future economic development. And whether your retail sector seems vibrant and full of life or is simply struggling to hold on, informed decision making is critical.

To learn more about Extension’s Retail Market Analysis program, contact:

  • David Civittolo (Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics)
  • Nancy Bowen (Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics)

(Submitted by David Civittolo, Associate Professor and Field Specialist, Community Economics)