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Fostoria businesses excited for new DORA

The expectation is the DORA will increase foot traffic for existing businesses and could draw in potential new businesses downtown.

FOSTORIA, Ohio — Fostoria is the latest northwest Ohio community to host an area where you can drink alcoholic beverages outside.

With city council's approval to create a 23-acre Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area in Fostoria, the local small business community is excited.

Last year, seven new businesses set up shop in Fostoria's downtown.

By creating a DORA, the expectation is these businesses will see more visitors downtown, including more out-of-town folks and families. 

"But also what it does for the downtown businesses. Studies have shown that it can increase the amount of foot traffic in your community and the length of stay," Sarah Stephens-Krupp, small business director at the Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce, said. "And all of that translates, of course, to sales for our businesses which helps our local economy."

For Jena Stearns who just completed a move into her new Main Street location for her business Beyond Laser Creations, the DORA is an added bonus.

"When we put our all we're known for or what we can accommodate, that's just another thing: 'Oh, they're DORA friendly? We can go and do this activity, or we can have this birthday party here and still participate in the DORA activities,'" Stearns said. "So, I think it's just another selling point of why it'd be good to move down in this area."

Last year she was already working to get set up downtown, as her growing business matched the energy that was already growing here.

Now with the coming DORA, the city has another economic development tool to draw in even more new businesses.

"One of my goals for the launch was to support the other businesses and to watch us all grow at the same time and that just fulfills that. Because they can support other pubs and get their DORA cups at the other places and come here," Stearns said.

The Fostoria DORA still needs final state approval. But once it's up and running, it will be operating in downtown Fostoria on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.