One of the best things about the newspaper industry is the opportunity to share positive stories about the community that some people might not be aware of.

While the “media” is often demonized for focusing on the negative — and the Star Beacon is never going to shy away from tackling difficult or unpleasant stories — we all live in the communities in which we work and want to see the good things going on get the attention they deserve. Having a chance to focus on the uplifting is as important as the coverage of drugs, crime and poverty and a big part of what we strive to accomplish.

That is why we always want to draw particular attention to our annual Our Town project, which is published over four Sundays each July. This week marks the second installment, focusing on the Conneaut/Kingsville area. July 7 featured the Jefferson and south county region, while upcoming weeks will profile Geneva/Madison/Austinburg and the Ashtabula/Saybrook portions of the county. 

The Our Town sections focus on progress with community projects such as infrastructure work and economic development in 2019, as well as upcoming goals set out by civic leaders. Part of the aim of the annual project is to show tangible examples of advancement in our communities and put achievements into perspective. While infrastructure is not always the most exciting thing to read about, when it comes to major paving projects and road work, few things affect people’s day-to-day lives more.

Our Town also gives us a chance to profile business and community leaders. This year, it felt right to shine a light on women in business. All of the small business owners, CEOs, civic leaders or elected officials we have profiled this year have incredible stories to tell in their own right, but adding to that was the opportunity to showcase role models for young women — and young men — in our communities, and that made this year’s focus all the more rewarding.

Some of these incredible women shared not only the challenges they had to overcome in their personal lives — such as being a single mother, losing a spouse or juggling running a business, raising a family and relentless volunteering — but also what it is like to break into businesses or industries that had traditionally been seen a male-dominated.

We hope by sharing their stories, and their overwhelming successes, they will inspire future business and community leaders to not let any obstacles stand in their way.

While Ashtabula County has challenges and concerns — and we will continue to report on them every day — we are proud that the annual Our Town project allows us to shine a spotlight on all the progress happening in our county and the people who make it possible.