Building relationships: Earlham grad finds community of treasures, opportunity in Wayne County
Eric Nicholson has fallen in love with Wayne County’s architecture, its culture and its affordability.
And its opportunity.
“I’m getting experience here that I probably could not have gotten somewhere else,” said the 24-year-old Nicholson, who is executive director of Richmond Neighborhood Restoration Inc., a local nonprofit that acquires and rehabilitates historic buildings for resale with a goal of preserving history, encouraging citizen participation and spurring economic development.
“This job has been an incredible learning experience. It’s not what I’m used to, but I have a lot of skills I developed at Earlham College. It’s been amazing learning to work in a community,” he said. “And I think Richmond is a town that appreciates people working hard and community building. For me, that’s a draw.”
Nicholson, a native of Ithaca, New York, is a 2017 Earlham College graduate with a degree in biochemistry. But, for now, the world of science will have to wait.
“For me it’s about community,” Nicholson said. “You can live anywhere in the world, but if you don’t have a community of people who are supporting you it’s going to be miserable. I’m working to build that, to build relationships.”
After his graduation from Earlham, Nicholson worked for the Richmond Parks Department in its greenhouse and began volunteering at Richmond’s downtown Innovation Center. That led to a seat on the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce’s Buy Local committee. In 2019, he became a member of the chamber board and will chair the Buy Local committee.
Nicholson has found the county to be affordable, rich in culture and recreational opportunities and within a short drive of cities like Indianapolis, Dayton and Cincinnati.
“There are so many things here,” he said. “Earlham brings in so many incredible artists, lectures and performances, as does IU East. And you have the art and historical museums, a professional symphony and civic theater, all of which are incredible community resources.”
And the Cardinal Greenway hiking/biking trail, the longest continuous trail in Indiana.
“It is a community treasure. I spent a good portion of my summer biking and walking on the trail,” Nicholson said.
From an affordability standpoint, Nicholson has time to explore the community and get involved in other groups and organizations.
“Not being financially constrained was also hugely important to me,” he said. “If I am really concerned about how much money I’m making then that’s what I’m going to be mainly focused on. If I’m not then I have the freedom to do more of what I want with my time.”
He has found his job and his community an exciting place to be.
“There are job opportunities here for young professionals who are driven to make a change and excited to work for things they believe in,” he said. “That’s a huge plus that Wayne County has to offer.”