Charles named Oxford DDA chair

By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Rod Charles was appointed chair of the Oxford Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors Oct. 18, for a two-year term ending September 2023.

Rod Charles

He replaces Nicole Ellsworth, whose chair term expired. Ellsworth continues to sit on the DDA as a board member, with a term ending in 2024.
Board Member Bill Dunn nominated Charles, who had been serving as vice chair. The board voted 7-0 for his appointment. (Board Member Dorothy Johnston was absent.)
Board Member Marie Powers was then appointed vice chair, filling the vacancy just left by Charles.
Over the next few years, Charles hopes the DDA continues the direction it is already going. “We’ve got more positive energy going in the DDA right now than we’ve ever had before,” said Charles, a downtown property owner who has sat on the DDA board since 2013.
He credits the DDA’s recent success to the diligence of Ellsworth and the DDA’s executive director Kelly Westrbook – “a rock star” hired early this year. “She has a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of passion for Oxford,” Charles said, adding about Ellsworth, “She led us through some turbulent moments the last couple of years.”
Charles sees the mission of the DDA as two-fold. First, it makes a town more attractive by supporting infrastructure to bring more business to the community. For example, the new sound system, benches and awnings for businesses the DDA has installed this year. “You know, buildings looking good instead of being in a state of disrepair. When your town looks good, it makes more people consider moving to your town.”
The DDA also organizes events to help foster a sense of community and bring people downtown. For example, the Scarecrow Festival earlier this month “was the best Scarecrow Festival in recent memory.” An event like that needs volunteers, and Charles noted the DDA has more volunteers now than they’ve had in recent memory, too.
“What I hear from people in other communities is how impressed they are with the Oxford DDA, what we’re doing,” he said. “Where I see us going is more businesses looking to Oxford because they see the positive energy that’s being expressed.”

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