REGISTER VIEWPOINT: Economic point person is an investment

You're either serious about economic development or you aren't. And with money tight all over -- for local governments, taxpayers an
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

You're either serious about economic development or you aren't. And with money tight all over -- for local governments, taxpayers and businesses alike, as towns, counties, regions and states compete for the jobs that would get the engine going -- it's an investment that can't be done halfway.

Huron County is the latest to find that out, as it tries to replace Jim Wiedenheft, county economic development chief for 41/2 years until he quit this month.

Officially, he wants to start a magazine. Semi-unofficially, he said the job is underpaid and underfunded -- he made $25,000 to $45,000 less than officials in other counties with similar job duties.

The position is partly paid for by the county and partly by the Ohio State University Extension Service, which says the job requires a master's degree and it's hard to find people with that qualification who want the job. Trying to save money, Huron County Commissioners wondered if the master's requirement could be relaxed. OSU Extension said no, the job involves education as well as marketing, working with existing businesses as well as trying to lure new ones.

"I'm sure that if you talk to people in that position, they all feel they are underpaid," said county commissioner Mike Adelman.

Perhaps it's that very spirit of investment that has helped Huron County have nearly the highest unemployment rates in the state.