6 new businesses: See how Fairborn’s downtown is revitalizing

Fairborn barber, Dane Welch cuts Zach Cornett's hair. Cornett is from Yellow Springs. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Fairborn barber, Dane Welch cuts Zach Cornett's hair. Cornett is from Yellow Springs. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Locals’ investment helped bring it back, assistant city manager says.

Fairborn has added several new businesses this year, a far cry from just a few years ago when empty storefronts were common in their historic downtown.

Since the beginning of the year, six new businesses received their occupancy permits, or the permits from the city that allowed them to open, according to the city.

Michael Gebhart, assistant city manager of Fairborn and the economic development director for the city, said in 2017, the city had half a dozen empty storefronts downtown. It was nothing like Gebhart remembered as a kid in the 1980s, when the downtown was thriving.

He said locals investing in downtown helped bring it back, but now the way downtown feels is helping bring more businesses in.

“A lot of it is just the vibe downtown and you know it’s that picturesque downtown that, you know, everybody, you know, remembers or sees in movies and so people want to be down there,” Gebhart said.

Gebhart said the city has sponsored some events, like Bluegrass and Brews or their annual July 3rd block party and 4th of July Parade, that help bring people into Fairborn, which would help small businesses. People who come to the town for one event might end up at a restaurant or at a small shop, he noted.

The Actor’s Theater of Fairborn is another local attraction that can help small business downtown, Gebhart said.

The city has also helped with some small business grants, Gebhart said.

The front window of Fairborn Barber Shop on East Main St. in Fairborn. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
The front window of Fairborn Barber Shop on East Main St. in Fairborn. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Dane Welch, owner of the Fairborn Barbershop, opened his store in February, aiming his business at younger people than would be traditionally served in a barbershop.

“With the downtown Fairborn being as old as it is and meaning like, all locally owned businesses like I felt like this is the perfect place,” Welch said.

He said he felt the Fairborn business community has been very welcoming.

“I would say if you’re gonna be a local business like try to get in with the other local owners,” Welch said. “You know there is a group page for the local businesses owners downtown, and we all kind of communicate and kind of pass information back and forth that way.”

He said he’s lived in Fairborn for a while and the growth of the community was also a reason he picked Fairborn to open his barbershop, plus the reasonable prices for opening the shop and the community support he’s gotten.

“It’s all local businesses,” Welch said of historic downtown Fairborn, where his business is located. “There’s always food trucks and, you know, block parties.”

Overall, it’s good for the city when downtown is booming.

“There’s a good vibe that comes when people come downtown and so it’s just, I can’t describe it, it’s just a really cool place,” Gebhart said.

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