The Community Energy…Can You Feel It? 

By Sandy Messner, Director of Marketing & Communications

You’re from Colorado? What are you doing HERE in Mansfield? I get that question often. Colorado is full of natural beauty that takes the breath away from anyone who visits and calls the state home, so why would I not return to the place that many go to escape? My answer to that question is similar to the responses from many other transplants to Richland County, Ohio. There’s an energy here, an energy of community growth, positivity, and a restless feeling to be a part of a story in the making. 

I was hired as Marketing & Communications Director for the Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development (RAC&ED) in December of 2021 to tell the story of Richland County. While I was aware of amazing things happening here, like the Downtown Revitalization plan, beautiful state parks, and the exciting arts and recreation scene, I was unaware of the insights I was about to experience. 

In my first few months working with RAC&ED, I met with board members, community leaders, and many of the hard-working people in Richland County. I took notes, many, many notes to understand the absolute gravity of projects being carried out collaboratively by the thinkers, leaders, and doers of this area. Being immersed in region-changing projects and collaborating with leaders actively pursuing positive change has led me to significant insights about Richland County, insights that have begun to reveal an incredible story. 

Each employee of RAC&ED is tasked with completing objectives in our strategic plan. These objectives are enormous tasks and cannot be completed individually. It truly takes a community for these ideas to come to fruition. I’ll let our readers in on a couple of projects we’re working on this year.

The largest and most time-consuming project I’ve been involved with during my first six months in this position is the brainchild of our Workforce Development Director, Clint Knight, a transplant from Georgia. A strategy of the plan to “create job and career opportunity awareness” has come to life in the form of Richland Works. Through a massive collaborative effort funded by Ohio Means Jobs and Richland County Job and Family Services, we have partnered with DRM Productions and 25 employers in Richland County to tell the story of the work culture for these companies, painting a picture of what it’s like to work there. These videos will be used in digital marketing campaigns to attract talent to Richland County. 

The Richland Works project has led me to the insight that Richland County is a fascinating place to work! Being behind the scenes on this project means I have been present while CEOs, business leaders, and employees have been interviewed about their companies. I’ve toured many facilities and interacted with countless talented individuals. Did you know companies in Richland County produce rebar used all over the country, gigantic boring machines that drill under highways, steel tubing that might be right under you in your car seat, or the window displays you see at Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works? These are just a few of the many stories I’ve witnessed and when I mention the companies in day-to-day conversions, I get the same response: What? I had no idea these things were happening here! Right!?! You’ll be able to see these stories when the Richland Works website goes live soon. On this website, you (and the world) can browse the employer profile videos to get a glimpse of what working for world-class companies in Richland County is like. 

Did you also know that we have just begun season 2 of the Richland Workforce Pulse Podcast, which tells the story of what it’s like to work or own a business in Richland County? In season 1, Clint Knight interviewed Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, Dr. Diab from NCSC, Deanna West-Torrence of NECIC, and many others. This podcast paints a picture of how collaboration with education, businesses, and government resources has supported the economic and workforce development landscape of Richland County. 

Season 2 of the Richland Workforce Pulse has just begun and will focus on the people who live here; those who have moved here, grew up here and moved back (boomerangers), people who’ve started businesses here, people who were educated here, and will tell the story of why they choose to call this place home. By listening to the podcasts and speaking with the many people I meet weekly, I’ve noticed a unified story that keeps repeating…Richland County is a place where ANYBODY can become involved in the story-making process. YOU can advance your life through education and work upskilling opportunities. YOU can have a voice in enhancing the quality of life for everyone in Richland County. YOU can have a seat at the table, be heard, be involved, and positively advance the community. 

Richland County is a place where you can be a part of the growth and community energy, where you can make a difference. There is space for a once shy Colorado county girl, now Marketing & Communications Director. There’s space for Clint Knight, a high-school drummer from Georgia, now Workforce Development Director. There’s space for YOU (enter YOUR story here). 

As we enhance our community brand, we enjoy telling the stories of the people who have made Richland County their home…whether they’re transplants, boomerangers, or life-longers. We’re a story in the making, and we’ve only just begun. If you have a story you’d like to share, email me at