Strong advocate for freedom, my hometown, and entrepreneurship!
Thanks to the Washington Examiner for sharing my story about our fight to preserve the American Dream.
Arcanum, Ohio, is a small town on the Ohio-Indiana border, with a population of 2,129 at the last census. Jena Powell has already risen in her 25 years to be one of her beloved hometown’s finest daughters — a Republican freshman state representative, in a time when the party is battling for the votes of both her gender and generation. “No matter your age, social-economic class, or gender, we have this … beautiful idea that our Founding Fathers understood and knew, that if we create a framework where people could thrive, it doesn’t matter what gender you are,” Powell told me.
Powell is one of the youngest elected officials in the United States, and the youngest in the Ohio General Assembly. Between her charisma, voiced with a cheery Midwestern twang that gives the impression of an everlasting bright smile on the other end of the phone, and independent spirit forged on her family farm, you could excuse someone for thinking that she’s been well trained in politics.
Jena grew up as the third of seven children on that farm, and grew into an aspiring young entrepreneur, taking online college classes at 13. She and her brother started an outdoor billboard company, Huntington Outdoor, with about 600 billboards across Ohio and Indiana. She’s proud Arcanum is still her home now, having remodeled a turn-of-the-20th-century farmhouse. “I get to slip back to where I truly love; the people that I love, and the place that I love, and be able to fight for them.”
One of her biggest passions is showing the millennial generation that they too can live the American dream as she has, mainly by creating a deregulated business climate that allows them to explore their creative spirits. “Millennials should understand, and should know, that if they’re getting everything free from the government, that freedom is being taken away,” said Powell. “Millennials, who are a very entrepreneurial generation, they want to achieve that freedom.”
As far as crafting a message that would appeal to the millennial generation, Powell feels a strong message of freedom and liberty is capable of attracting all groups and does not have to be changed. “If we truly believe in what we’re speaking, we don’t have to change our message to the crowd,” Powell advocated. “When we limit government, it gives people more power. It gives families, and churches, and communities more power and more freedom to do as they choose. Every child is born with a dream inside of them, a dream of what they want to be.”
Neil Dwyer is a graduate of the University of Miami, a political and sports broadcaster, and a freelance writer.