When I first moved to the area, I believed that Portsmouth was a town relishing in the glory days of the past. I, like other outsiders, believed that Portsmouth was a town that suffered from an economy shifting away from industry.
However, after spending some time downtown and experiencing city engagements myself, I now know Portsmouth is a town of survivors. The downtown of Portsmouth is thriving and improving thanks to nonprofit organizations such a Main Street Portsmouth, the Chamber of Commerce, Southern Ohio Port Authority, Connex, Scioto Foundation, and many more.
Born in a small Ohio town where the large corporations left nothing but the rust belt, and the economy was rubbish, I believed everywhere faced the same economic issues. Growing up, my parents would reminisce on the glory days of their former communities and then spoke with a tone of resentment and anger for what had become of the towns. As a young child, I would question as to why nothing was done to rejuvenate the economies, but I was met with grim answers. The bleak responses in which my curiosity begged dimmed the inquisitive side to my personality. I found that if nothing was done to improve something or change something, then there was a reason behind why nothing was done. The mentality that surrounded me was an atmosphere which needed to change.
One day, while in school, the student body was informed about a new program that was crafted for middle and high school students. The College Credit Plus program, which was rolled out statewide in Ohio, allowed students to go into college classes with the added benefit of the tuition being paid by the state. My heart jumped at the chance to enter into a college level class and for after larger challenges. I wanted to attend Shawnee State University, and with the new program I was able to attend. My first semester changed my perceptions of life. I was given the ability to think critically in a more detailed way. This translated to how I would write and my ideas of communication. I find communication to be a means in which opportunities can form and ideas can be crafted into reality.
Communication is something we are always doing whether it be verbal or nonverbal, and I began to think about what the Portsmouth community was communicating. Through some research into the area, I realized how rich the community was and the hardships it has endured. I have continually been shown the strength and resolve of the Portsmouth community, and especially through the work of Main Street Portsmouth.
Many downtowns are struggling, and, at one time, Portsmouth’s was as well, but through the work done by city government, a plethora of nonprofits, dedicated and creative developers, businesses liker Trinity Business Group, and many others, businesses is coming to the area and thriving within Portsmouth.
I was inspired to work under Main Street Portsmouth as an intern due to my desire to see this community grow while maintaining its rich history. I look forward to being a part of downtown Portsmouth and helping to tell its story of endurance, optimism, and growth.
Peyton Norman is an intern, studying under Main Street Portsmouth. He is focusing on marketing and communications, while assisting in other means. He may be reached at [email protected]