Paul Freedman


Appalachia Regional Food Business Center Director

Paul has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and worked as a seasonal park ranger in Acadia National Park before moving to Ohio from New Jersey for graduate school in September of 1994. He started working for the City of Columbus as an extern while pursuing a Master’s in City and Regional Planning at the Ohio State University. After graduating in 1996, Paul was hired by the City of Columbus as a Senior Planner in the Planning Division of the Department of Development.

He has worked for the City of Columbus in various capacities over his career, with duties that have ranged from GIS mapping and network server support to area plan development and implementation to building and zoning code development to floodplain management. Paul returned part-time to the Ohio State University in 1998 and completed his studies for a M.A. in Public Administration in 2000.

Paul’s most recent work for the City of Columbus was as a Planning Manager in the Zoning Section of the Department of Building and Zoning Services from 2001 until 2023, where he managed the Code Development and Special Projects Section. From assisting in the development of new codes, zoning codes and regulations, to creating entire new zoning districts, his projects covered the entire range of zoning and public administration.

Today, Paul is excited to be working for Rural Action based out of the Athens, Ohio, area helping to implement and initiate the Appalachia Regional Food Business Center cooperatively with over a dozen other partner organizations and stakeholder groups, one of 12 Regional Food Business Center (RFBC) nationwide. Paul, along with his wife Cynthia, are beekeepers and owners of a small winery that specializes in cider, honey, and fruit wines, giving him the perspective of also being a value-added agriculture product producer.