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Columbus City Council looks to boost southside economy

Columbus City Council says it will spend $80,000 to help boost the economy of the southside. The expenditure is the first use of the so-called "jobs growth fund." Two council-members and a city development leader used a hardware store for a backdrop today to explain the public funds will be used to leverage more investment in an area hard-hit by job losses in recent years. At Schreiner Hardware at the corner of Parsons and Morrill on the south side, manager Scott Hack says his cash registers ring up alot of plumbing fixtures. He explains the homes and businesses in the area are 90 to 100 years old so he adpated and now specializes in repair items.

Hack welcomes the city expenditure saying its needed to "kick-start" re-investment in the area. Council-member Mary Jo Hudson says studies estimate that south side residents and businesses have 25 million dollars of purchasing power. But much of that money is being spent elsewhere.

Earlier this month, Schottenstein's Department Store closed its doors on South Parsons Avenue and the south side has seen an erosion of its neighborhood job base with the closure of a Techneglas plant last year and the reduction of workforce and wages at the former Buckeye Steel Castings Plant.

City Development Director Mark Barbash likened the South Side investment plan to the Four-Corners area at Cleveland and 11th in Linden and the redevelopment of the Northland Mall space on Morse Road.

Barbash identifies perception as the biggest obstacle to more investment on the south side. Community activist Linda Henry of Southside Neighbors Against Crime says city building codes are already being being used to help clean-up blighted properties on the southside.