Lucas County Improvement Corp. seeks inputWritten by Matt Sapara | | firstname.lastname@example.org
More than a year ago, UT began a planning process that was designed to address the main criticism of economic development in Northwest Ohio. That criticism is that the economic development agencies are fractured and their efforts are duplicative. This Meta-Plan, also known as the Toledo-Regional Economic Plan, has significantly improved the effectiveness of the agencies and help us better understand the role that we play in the economic development system.
The Lucas County Improvement Corporation (LCIC) acts as the coordinating agency for economic development efforts in Lucas County. Essentially, this means that LCIC coordinates the efforts of our partners in the areas of project development and resource identification. LCIC also implements the economic development strategies of its partners in the community.
In 2009, LCIC will have four main goals. It will focus its efforts on business retention, business attraction, resource development and community outreach. All of these are significant factors in determining how successful the regional economy will be.
In 2008, LCIC coordinated more than 30 successful projects that developed more than $50 million in capital in our community. In 2009, LCIC looks to double these numbers with the proper financial support in place. From a business attraction standpoint and for specific reasons, LCIC is going to focus on veterans’ groups and international trade development. With the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a large number of veterans are returning to our area with financial support from the federal government to start a business or buy a home.
With the downturn of the real estate market throughout the country, some of the area’s most talented real estate developers have turned their efforts into developing other products in other countries. LCIC wants to ensure that there is a very streamlined and predictable approach to foster these new opportunities.
In 2008, LCIC and its partners brought more than $10 million into the community from state and federal sources in the form of grants. These grants are being used to create short-term construction jobs and long-term positions in a number of fields. In 2009, LCIC must do a better job in seeking input from the citizens of Northwest Ohio. It is clear when other successful economies are studied that the most common thread is that the particular system has received and acted on the input from everyone in the community. To implement this concept, LCIC will hold several town hall meetings throughout the county to listen and understand the suggestions from the community. These suggestions will then be implemented into our economic development strategy.
While goals detailed above provide a path in which LCIC will travel in 2009, there is also an area that will focus on developing the community’s regional standing. Specifically, LCIC will focus on developing a risk and growth sharing plan for Lucas County. In many communities throughout the country, political subdivisions are coming together to share resources and income.
LCIC believes that when a project is completed in one jurisdiction, revenue from that activity should flow to all of the partners. This concept has many benefits. First, it will eliminate nonproductive discussions and interagency competitiveness in terms of site selection. Instead of a project being developed in a location that benefits a single jurisdiction, a project can be sited in a location that is best for the company, and all of the jurisdictions benefit. Second, by having a successful risk and growth sharing plan, we will demonstrate to the larger region of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan that the parochialism of the past is dead. It is this sense of uniformity of purpose that attracts and retains the best companies and human capital. The only way to overcome the challenges that face the community is with a united front and a clear plan on taking advantage of opportunities that are presented.
Matt Sapara is LCIC interim executive director.