I often hear people discussing what the Weirton area was like over the years, with active businesses up and down Main Street, the mill actively running on all cylinders, clean and safe streets and everyone being proud to call this place home.
I also hear people complain about the lack of growth or community activity taking place today.
So, I've often wondered what people would like to see come to our area.
What businesses would you like to see in our area? Not just in Weirton, but our immediate area. Where would you want to see them?
What services would you like to see available for our region's residents?
While we haven't had many large industries locate here, hiring hundreds of people at once, there have, in fact, been businesses created.
They're not always big and flashy, but they are here, and most of them are being brought in by local folks who have had a dream and want to share it.
As part of my job, I've had the opportunity to visit numerous local businesses as they've opened in our communities.
I've seen everything from beauty salons to pizza shops, pharmacies to cell phone stores, new doctors, fitness centers, various restaurants, clothing boutiques, insurance agencies, hotels, etc.
Some have stayed opened and thrived, while others have had to close for various reasons.
I lost count many years ago, but the point is there are those who are working to open businesses and invest in our area. We just have to look around with fresh eyes sometimes to realize it.
I think we all tend to get bogged down by these beliefs that there are certain folks preventing any kind of business from coming here or that no one wants to come to Weirton that we miss some of the growth and changes that actually are taking place.
How many of you know about Alexander Archery, the new archery store in downtown Weirton, for example? Have you visited Lickity Splitz on Marland Heights? Have you seen the recent renovations at the Holiday Inn and Undo's? How about Trackside Grill? Have you gotten a T-shirt made at Stuff with Attitude?
Those are just a few examples, and just those located in Weirton. Look through our other communities and learn what is available.
Businesses thrive when our residents support them. We can't expect to see development and growth if we only think about driving to Wheeling or Robinson Township to make our purchases.
Look to see what is available in Weirton, or New Cumberland, or Chester, or Follansbee and Wellsburg first.
Shop locally. Become familiar with what we have around us. Then, encourage others to do the same or recommend somewhere to visitors.
If you have an idea for a type of business, who knows, maybe there's already one here and you just didn't know it.
If it's not and you're interested in bringing it here, check to see what would be involved. Don't just sit back and blame others.
We are on a new track for the history of the Ohio Valley.
The years of the steel mills taking care of our every need are long behind us. There is hope, but it will take work from everyone to see it through.
If you want to see some kind of special program for our local youth, see if you can put it together yourself.
If you want to start up a business, do the research to see what is needed and see if you are able to take that plunge.
Finally, realize there are those in our area who are working to find and attract businesses to our communities.
Step back, know that projects like these take time and think regionally not just about your immediate neighborhood.
If you have an idea, get together with others, talk to some of the experts who are available to assist with starting businesses.
We can't rely on others to help us grow. We have to find our own path. Think about what you would like to see here, and then see what can be done to make it a reality.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)