Sheila Lash Rice shows off one of the rooms in “The L”, a small banquet facility on South Yellow Springs Street. She will be discussing the past and present of that street during a Thursday night discussion at the Shouvlin Center at Wittenberg University. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Event highlights rich history, potential resurgence of Springfield’s S. Yellow Springs Street

A speaking event Thursday evening will focus on the rich history of African American businesses that lined South Yellow Springs Street.

It will also feature stories of the corridor’s past and present as well as plans for the future as some residents say the street and the surrounding area is undergoing an economic resurgence.

The event will be held at the Shouvlin Center at Wittenberg University and will began at 6:30 p.m. The discussion is part of the 2019-2020 Global Education Speaker Series and will last 90 minutes, feature multiple speakers and include a question and answer portion.

It is free to attend and is sponsored by Springfield’s Global Education and Peace Network, which works to build bridges of understanding across cultures through regularly scheduled events.

Cheryl Dover, the minority business development coordinator for the City of Springfield, said she wanted to hold a discussion centered around South Yellow Springs Street after recently moving back to her childhood home located nearby.

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Dover said the area has changed drastically in the past decades. She said many of the businesses she knew in her youth have shuttered their doors.

However, storefronts that have once laid empty for years are now finding new occupants.

“There is just an energy around here,” said Sheila Rice, who owns a building on the street. She operates an event space there known as The L along with her daughter Jaimee Jordan.

Rice will be speaking at Thursday’s event. Born and raised in Springfield, she spent a lot of time on South Yellow Springs Street growing up and remembers when it was a bustling area in the city’s south side and its later decline.

Rice said it’s a place full of history and has a lot of promise. Though her building was in bad shape when she bought it, she said she was able to turn it into a prosperous business, with the space being booked into next year.

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Dover said the discussion will center on current businesses on the street as well as those of the past.

“I think it is a good thing to look back and see what was going on at that time. To contrast that with what is happening now,” Dover said, noting that the area saw an economic decline in the 1980s.

“Neighborhoods change over time. Large employers like International Harvester were in a down turn. People began moving out the city and things started to deteriorate. I believe that is what happened to South Yellow Springs Street,” she added.

However, she said that has changed in recent years. Small businesses have opened up shop on street as well as corporate stores such as Dollar General.

“Now, there is a resurgence coming along. People are there. There is a feeling that the city as a whole is going to make it. We have hit a reset button,” Dover said.

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