Regional development group presents Nelson with award

EODA HONOREE — Mark Nelson, president of Nelson Fine Art & Gifts in Steubenville, received the small business excellence award during Friday’s annual EODA meeting held in Walnut Creek. Nelson, third from left, is shown receiving his plaque from Judy Bratten, executive director of Historic Fort Steuben. Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci, left, and Jefferson County Port Authority Executive Director Evan Scurti participated in the presentation.

WALNUT CREEK — Mark Nelson is one local business person who really does love where he lives.

The president of Nelson Fine Art & Gifts located at 980 Lincoln Ave., Steubenville, constantly is working to help redevelop the city’s downtown economy and give it a new base in manufacturing and tourism.

He was honored on Friday for his efforts during the 27th-annual meeting of the Eastern Ohio Development Alliance held at the Carlisle Inn in Walnut Creek. Nelson received EODA’s 2017 Small Business Excellence Award.

Formed in 1990, EODA works to promote economic growth in 16 Eastern and Southeastern Ohio counties. It operates as an independent, nonprofit organization.

Nelson was nominated for the award by Judy Bratten, executive director of Historic Fort Steuben; Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci; and Evan Scurti, executive director of the Jefferson County Port Authority.

Founded in 1994, Nelson’s company has more than 30 employees. It is involved in manufacturing and graphic design, specializing in religious art and inspirational plaques. Framed artwork is a Nelson specialty as is home decor and posters.

Nelson moved his business to the former Lincoln School building in 2010. The woodshop he constructed near his home in 1994 houses a cabinet shop warehouse and a casting operation.

In her nomination, Bratten pointed out Nelson’s greatest success has involved the efforts of his family “to create a new attraction to draw visitors to the area — the Steubenville Nutcracker Village and Advent Market.

“Nelson’s team has designed and produced more than 100 life-sized nutcrackers, each one a unique character representing a business, profession, entertainer or event. Working together with Historic Fort Steuben, the attraction drew more than 20,000 people to the community during the last six weeks of 2016 and had a positive impact on dining and lodging revenues. In addition, he and his family have opened satellite businesses: Drosselmeyer’s Nutcracker Shoppe and the Steubenville Popcorn Co.”

Mucci said Nelson is “leading the way in a revival of Steubenville-based manufacturing, showing that the local economy can be diversified in a way that is consonant with its roots.”

“The company serves as an important symbol of local business success and significant economic growth. Nelson is an invaluable witness to the potential for development in downtown areas and the ability for innovative new solutions in Jefferson County,” Mucci said.

In addition to running and growing his business, Nelson is involved the Steubenville Revitalization Group.

Scurti pointed out Nelson has demonstrated “it is possible to successfully repurpose present infrastructure for new purposes, prevent area blight and operate a prospering business infrastructure in the Ohio Valley in general and Steubenville in particular.”

Nelson summed up his love for Steubenville in this recent quote:

“The best city in the entire U.S. — that’s what I want Steubenville to be — the best place to live.”

From Herald-Star  |  May 1, 2017