The village of Glouster, which is about 15 miles north of Athens, could soon see new life in its once bustling downtown area, which is now in desperate need of an economic boost.
Glouster resident Jane Cavarozzi, who owns Dirty Girl Coffee, is poised to bring about some much needed change with help from other community members wanting to preserve and bring new business to the Glouster area.
Cavarozzi said that soon after buying land and building a cabin on Burr Oak State park, near Glouster, she joined a community development organization called the Glouster Community Development Corporation. But it was a 501c(4) organization, which meant it could not raise funds and Cavarozzi felt that the organization had a limited ability to have an impact.
As a result, she and other members created the Glouster revitalization Organization (GRO) to raise funds and bring entrepreneurship investment into the village by creating venues for small businesses.
“At Dirty Girl Coffee our goal is to impact women’s economic progress, and to do that in Glouster we realized there’s a venue issue and that’s why GRO came about.” Cavarozzi said.
The organization largely focuses on inventorying available buildings and defining the problems in each space to make future investors aware of what it will take to revitalize each specific building.
This comes with its own set of challenges, though. One of the obstacles the organization faces is bringing investors into the village. The pandemic hasn’t helped, and as a result, it has slowed their progress and some projects have stalled.
Cavarozzi said part of the solution requires Athens County to have a greater urgency around incentifying business development in the area, prioritizing infrastructure such as broadband connection and attracting a diverse portfolio of industries rather than relying on short-term industries such as coal or natural gas.
“There are various barriers to development [in Athens County], the topography is challenging, but anything can happen,” Cavarozzi said. “It’s a really complex problem, there’s no simple answer to poverty in southeast Ohio, but there also isn’t great urgency around it.”
For now, Cavarozzi said she feels encouraged by the recent Baileys bicycle trail project, which has two trailheads between the village of Glouster — one in Chauncey and a second on in Buchtel — and is optimistic it will provide a much needed economic boost to the area.