A cross-section of community leaders announced last week a "new" and unified organization to drive economic development (read new jobs) in Erie County. The organization will be named later but it will include solid representation from all government bodies and private industry. The group intends to target growth from many places: industry, retail, tourism and expansion.
This announcement comes after six months of wrangling, posturing and turf-battles between Greater Erie Marketing (GEM), the county commissioners, Sandusky City commissioners, a self-appointed group called the Gang of Eight and a round-table group lead by the Erie County Chamber of Commerce.
At the core of the announcement is recognition that what we were doing was not working, nor was it enough.
The piece that led to this agreement was the GEM executive board voting to include more groups in its governance and widen its scope to embrace all avenues of business growth, not just manufacturing.
Depending on your perspective, and your opinion of its past success rate, this move is either a slight "tweak" to GEM to embrace the vocal opposition or it's a complete overhaul that will result in fresh leadership and the opportunity to muster more desperately -- needed financing.
However you see it, it is about time, and they need to complete what they've committed to do quickly.
The plan calls for GEM to have a new constitution; a new board of directors and officers; and a newly defined mission: To coordinate urban renewal and economic revitalization efforts across the artificial borders that separate individual communities in the county.
GEM wants to finish by Sept. 1. They can and should.
There is still going to be a wrestling match between the old guard, who want to preserve their power, and the new guard, who may lack experience but bring enthusiasm and time to the table.
In the end, we say to all -- get over it. There is no "them," just all of "us." We are in this together and need to find a way to make this work.
We need you to make this work because our residents want a future that includes jobs for them and their children in this beautiful place we call home. Like it or not, you've agreed to lead and getting it done is what leadership is about.
We'll check back with you Sept. 2.