Albert “Al” Edmondson was appointed president of the Mt. Vernon District Improvement Association in February and began serving his four-year term last month.
Edmondson, who owns A Cut Above the Rest barber shop, has very specific plans for improving the Near East Side neighborhood, which has declined considerably over the last half century.
To bring those plans to fruition, the 43-year-old Columbus native says he’ll focus on four key issues: community outreach, infrastructure improvement, workforce development, and business development and coaching.
“This is home,” he says. “I grew up here. It is a part of who I am and this community has helped me to become the man that I am today. I want to see it provide the same opportunities to today’s residents that it has provided to me throughout my life.”
Edmondson says the association’s community outreach initiatives will address a variety of topics, including substance abuse, health and wellness, and personal finance.
He also wants to “unite public efforts with private funds and local politicians” to increase the amount of affordable housing in Mt. Vernon, transition non-productive parcels into into commercially successful spaces, and beautify the district.
To connect qualified workers with local employers, Edmondson has proposed hosting a community-specific career fair. Along those lines, the new president also wants to bring a business resource center to Mt.Vernon that would help entrepreneurs establish businesses that serve its community− something with which Edmondson is quite familiar.
In 1993, he purchased the 4,600-square foot building at 346 N. 20th St. and opened his barber shop there. Today, he has seven employees and the building is home to three additional organizations: a beauty salon, a non-profit association, and the offices for The Taste of Mt. Vernon magazine.
At the end of the day, Edmondson doesn’t think his business savvy will be the reason he is an effective leader in Mt. Vernon, though.
“People don’t care about how much you know,” he says. “They care about how much you care and I love my community.”
The Mt. Vernon District Improvement Association was founded in 1955.