The response to Erie County Economic Development Corp.’s proposed “Strategic Action Plan” has been encouraging, to say the least.
Sandusky, Erie County, Perkins Township, Huron have all endorsed the plan while Huron Township, Margaretta Township, Milan, Milan Township and Vermilion have all indicated they will likely follow suit.
Now it’s time to put some “action” in the Strategic Action Plan.
To do that and kick start the plan, ECEDC has said it will need additional funding, as much as a $150,000 increase, or more, to its annual $250,000 budget, which is mostly funded by private businesses. With local cities and townships struggling to meet skyrocketing budgets, providing additional funding to economic development is going to be a painful, but necessary, step. Funding a project that won’t likely bear fruit for two, five or even ten years is a tough challenge in a time when we struggle to cover today’s needs. We should know, because that was our approach in 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000. You can gauge how well the short view has worked out by our recent record-level unemployment numbers.
This plan is our best chance to change our future for the better. It may not be perfect, but it does provide hope. To make this work, we offer these challenges now:
-- We challenge the government groups that haven’t signed on to do so, and do it now.
-- We challenge ECEDC to, in detail, out line the funding it needs, exactly how such funds will be used and propose amounts that each body should contribute in cash each year to make this work.
-- We challenge our elected leaders to make the investment, tough as it is, in our future by passing enduring resolutions to fund it.
-- We challenge ECEDC to update all of us, publicly and at least once a quarter, on how they are using our money. We further challenge them to be the group that fosters the spirit of cooperation we currently lack.
What we don’t need is another study or expert telling us what we already know or what we need to do. We need to start doing it.
Will success happen overnight?
No, nothing worthwhile ever does. In fact, things could get worse in this region before they ever get better. But if we start working together on these problems today, things will get better someday, even if it is a year or a generation down the road.
Let’s start that process right here and right now.
Let’s turn our poor unemployment ratings around and become a leader, for a change, when it comes to economic development and job creation. Let’s work together to solve our problems, overcome hurdles and cut through red tape to get small and large projects moving forward in all of our unique communities.
Our economic train is leaving the station. It’s time for all of us, especially our elected officials and local leaders, to buy a ticket and get on board or get out of the way.