Friday, September 23, 2011



It is very encouraging to see that the major discussion going on in the Alliance City Council (Council) races this fall is on a economic development project (Council candidates talk new jobs in Alliance, Stephanie Ujhelyi, The Alliance Review, 09/22/2011).

One project involves a microloan program designed to incubate new "small" businesses in Alliance and to encourage expansion of existing small businesses.

One of leading proponents of the the loan program in James Dyke who is running as an independent to unseat loan time Alliance Democrat Phyllis Phillips in Alliance's 2nd Ward.  Phillips has been a long time fixture on Council and appears to the SCPR that she has not demonstrated the creativity and energy needed to help turn Alliance around.  Alliance voters should be taking a serious look at Dyke as a possible alternative to Phillips.  The second ward councilwoman did not answer The Review's candidate questionnaire.  Go figure!

Another program being looked at in Alliance by Council is an incubator program.  While "it better late than never," Stark County municipalities have been bringing up the rear on this concept if bringing it up at all.


In 1983 Akron initiated an incubator program and it has grown by leaps and bounds ever since.

Only now is Canton under Democrat Mayor William J. Healy, II, who is into the final part of his initial four year term, getting up and running with incubating new businesses capability.  So Healy has sat and done nothing for the most of his four years in office.  But he is not the only Canton mayor since 1983 who has sat on his/her duff for the nearly 30 years and watch other nearby communities and many across the country pass Canton by.

One would think that Canton voters would want to politically punish Healy for not using his New York University Stern School of Business self-touted education during his first four years to get Canton much further along in economic recover than he has achieved.

However, his Republican opponent A.R. "Chip" Conde is not exactly "knocking off socks" with compelling ideas as to how he might - in concrete ways - accelerate Canton's recovery from the economic doldrums.


So where is Alliance to look for guidance?

How about Youngstown?

While Akron has done an impressive job of re-inventing itself from being the rubber and trucking capital of the U.S., Youngstown is in the process of pulling off the near miraculous in terms of recovering from the the demise of the U.S. steel industry which caused Youngstown in the recent past to be tabbed as the "poster-child" quintessential representative of the "rust belt."

However, largely through the effort of the Youngstown Business Incubator Corporation (YBI) (since about 1997), Youngstown is being frequently referred to these days as perhaps Ohio's leading "comback city," and a lead example for all of America in terms of bringing deep thinkers and energetic entrepreneurs together in an effective coalition spark Youngstown into a rejuvenated state of business, financial and manufacturing existence.

The GM plant in Lordstown has been brought back to new life with three shifts of producing the Chevy Cruze (4,500 workers with workers from Janeville, Wisconsin being reassigned to Lordstown), a new tube plant (300 construction jobs; 400 new operation jobs) is in the final stages of being completed among a bevy of new job-producing jobs.

Another factor for Youngstown and its economic resurgence has been the "Congressman Tim Ryan" factor.

It could be that a silver lining of Alliance being sliced off from the rest of Stark County in the Republican Statehouse gerrymander of the county into three different districts is that its new congressman - Tim Ryan - is a founding member of what is called the "House Manufacturing Caucus" and of which he currently serves as co-chairman.

Yours truly heard a Ron Ponder (WHBC - "Points to Ponder") interview of Ryan this past week and was tremendously impressed with his focus in helping cities like Akron and Youngstown (in his current [the 17th] and new [the 13th] district.  Undoubtedly, he will warmly embrace Alliance and give the city a strong assist to get moving on rehabbing the Carnation City's business and commercial infrastructure.

In Ujhelyi's piece reference is made to Leadership Stark County (LSC) as being involved in the Alliance effort to re-invent itself.

Great news to the SCPR.  The Report has written frequently that has not appeared to be developing creative, energetic leaders but rather credential collecting types.

Could LSC involvement in Alliance be an indication that the leadership development arm of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce is finally getting its act together?

If so, then perhaps Stark County could be developing some ability to "pull itself up by its bootstraps" and get something significant and meaningful going so that Stark County one day might also be heralded as a model of what can be done with competent, if not extraordinary, leadership.

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