Two different stories caught our attention in juxtaposition to each other recently.
The first, news that the Erie County Economic Development Corporation, which is the reincarnated GEM organization, is moving ahead on the third and final phase of formal economic development targeting. The first two phases assessed our strengths and weaknesses as a region and then identified what types of industry might thrive here best. The intent with the third phase is to use professional help in targeting, by name, companies that fit the profiles and need to expand or move from elsewhere in the state, country or even world. We think this is a good thing.
The second story was more troubling. Erie County, along with neighbors Huron and Ottawa, topped Ohio's unemployment list for January. It is not an auspicious benchmark when nearly 10 percent of your workforce is unable to find gainful employment.
During the last year we saw the fallout that comes from not having a plan to develop new jobs in the area and how that results from too many competing agendas in all areas of public leadership.
The response to this realization has been fitful, but seems to be moving the right direction.
GEM woke up and changed course, still needing to develop more support but at least seemingly pointed in the right direction.
Erie County realized it had a powerful development tool in the Community Investment Corporation, which has been dormant for nearly three decades. The CIC was reconstituted and bought some land it will develop near NASA Plum Brook.
The Erie County Chamber of Commerce stepped up to take a leadership role in facilitating communication among all parties, and likely had a hand in prodding the movement with ECEDC and the CIC.
ECEDC needs money, more than ever to push the agenda hard. The county needs to help here, as do their many private investors.
The CIC needs to keep working with them to insure we are executing the recommendations of the professionals in total and it would be nice to the see the chamber retain a strong cheering voice to keep everyone focused.
The real key is going to be all of these groups continuing to pull towards each other, and then in the same direction.
On the surface, everyone says they are.
We simply need to ask, "You really are working together, guys, aren't you?"