Local officials react cautiously to economic development report

Teamwork is the key, so economic development officials in Erie County are trying to get the players together. The cou
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

Teamwork is the key, so economic development officials in Erie County are trying to get the players together.

The county’s main economic development group, the Erie County Economic Development Corp., has issued a new report that is meant to serve as the “business plan” for job creation here.

The plan emphasizes that it’s important for local governments to cooperate as a region rather than competing against each other.

Tim Riesterer, a member of the ECEDC board, said the group is trying to put together a PowerPoint presentation, about 15 minutes long, that can be used to summarize the report to local governments, civic clubs and other organizations.

Riesterer is president of the Erie County Township Association, which will meet next month. Riesterer said he hopes to give the presentation to his group.

“I don’t know how many of the townships have had a chance to view the report,” he said. “It hasn’t really been disseminated yet.”

When ECEDC released the new plan at an Aug. 5 meeting at BGSU Firelands, Dennis Murray Jr., president of the Sandusky City Commission, challenged all political subdivisions in Erie County to formally endorse the plan by the end of the month. Sandusky’s city commission endorsed it days later.

The Register asked many local government officials if they’ve seen the report yet, and if they plan to endorse it. This is what they said:

Sandusky

The Sandusky City Commission became one of the first local governments to adopt the report, approving it Monday. Murray said the commission approved it after considerable discussion.

“We adopted it as our own plan,” he said.

Murray said he read the entire report, and one thing he took away from it is that community leaders, elected officials, volunteers, business leaders and civic leaders all need to help sell Erie County’s potential.

“We all need to be engaged as marketers and spokespeople for the area,” he said. “It’s not something you simply budget for and hire somebody to do.”

Erie County

The Erie County Commissioners discussed the Strategic Action plan last week and adopted it 3-0  Thursday as part of the county’s own economic development plan.

Tom Ferrell, president of the commission, attended the announcement meeting. He said Wednesday he had read the executive summary of the report but hadn’t read the whole report yet, noting he’d been busy with the fair and the new joint dispatch report.

Bill Monaghan, another county commissioner, sits on the ECEDC board and participated in the Tuesday board meeting when the report was adopted.

Margaretta Twp.

Tim Riesterer, the president of the Margaretta Township Trustees, is also a member of the ECEDC board. He said he’ll present it to the township board.

“This is a chance for us to really make a step forward and make a difference for years to come,” he said.

Huron Twp.

Ed Enderle, president of the Huron Township Trustees, said the report will be on the agenda when trustees meet Monday. It’s likely there will be no immediate action, as it would the first time the other trustees have seen it, Enderle said.

The regional approach the report advocates is something Huron Township already does, Enderle said. For example, the township works with Huron for fire protection and works with the sheriff’s office to provide law enforcement, he said.

Perkins Twp.

Perkins became one of the first local governments to adopt the report when trustees voted 3-0 Tuesday to approve it.

Trustee Jeff Ferrell, who attended the announcement of the plan, noted that a key strategy of the report is that political subdivisions in the county must work together.

“The key finding was that Erie County was adversely affected by territorialism and lack of cooperation,” Ferrell said.

Bill Dwelle, president of the trustees, said Wednesday he has not read all of the report yet but added Ferrell has been serving as the board’s expert on the plan.

Huron

Huron’s City Council adopted the report when it met Tuesday night, Mayor Marilyn Shearer said.

“Our city manager has been closely connected with it and has kept us informed,” she noted.

Andy White, Huron’s city manager, is a member of the ECEDC board and spoke when the group released the plan.

The mayor said Wednesday she has not read the entire report yet.

“I did speak with the Angelou people when they were doing their interviews,” she said.

Vermilion

Mayor Jean Anderson said she plans to place a resolution before City Council asking it to endorse the report. While she says she can’t speak for council, she’s optimistic the plan will enjoy good support.

Anderson said she has read the report.

“I think it’s all a great action plan,” she said. “Those would be the key words, ‘action plan.’ I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work.”

Milan

Milan’s mayor, Robert Bickley, attended the unveiling of the plan.

“I don’t seen any reason why we wouldn’t support it,” he said.

Bickley said he does not know whether the village council will include financial support for ECEDC in next year’s budget, but the mayor says he has an “open mind” on that.

The mayor said Milan does not have an industrial park, so he’s always worked with ECEDC when he has heard an inquiry from a prospect.

Milan  Twp.

Sparky Weilnau, president of the Milan Township Trustees, said he had not read the report yet and had not heard about Murray’s challenge. He said he’s received no official communication on the matter.

Weilnau said he plans to obtain a copy of the report. The trustees’ next meeting is Wednesday.

“I will definitely take a look at it and see to it the other two trustees get a chance to look at it, too,” he said.