“Erie County Situational Analysis and Strategic Implications,” a report commissioned by the Greater Erie County Marketing Group, was made public Wednesday, and one of the most telling insights in it regards leadership, or lack of leadership, as it were.
“Conflict and failure to cooperate is one of the greatest barriers to successful economic development,” the report states. “ ... Economic development in Erie County has become politicized, fragmented and fraught with conflict and territorialism.”
Yes, it’s true, absolutely. That’s one conclusion in the report with which we totally agree, but we’re not at all sure GEM can step into the void and provide the leadership that’s needed. There’s certainly no evidence it can. We’ve all watched as our economic infrastructure crumbles before our eyes, and it seems GEM’s No. 1 goal is GEM’s survival.
GEM has had the results of this study for weeks, but held it close for a splashy announcement on Wednesday. In addition, Mark Litten, GEM’s director, refused to disclose the price tag, saying GEM is a privately funded agency.
The cost is secondary to the dark picture it paints of the county’s future. Effectively, the report states county and local leaders need to get their house in order and start seriously considering what to do and how to do it.
County commissioners, Sandusky city commissioners, Perkins Township trustees and other local leaders must come up with a concrete cooperative agreement on economic development to face the challenges that lie ahead and the ones that are staring us down right now. If GEM is to be part of that plan, it needs to agree to a set of goals, timetables and results.
If it’s not, it needs to get out of the way. We are way past the time for partisan, self-preservationist behavior. It is time for our leaders to act.