Wednesday, January 12, 2011


As readers of the SCPR know, The Report has been highly critical of economic development activities in the county.

Yours truly has, over the two years or so that The Report has been taking a detailed look at the quality of Stark County government by concentrating on the Stark commissioners, asked various elected officials to explain the "big picture" of what Stark's county and political subdivision elected officials (i.e. township, villages and cities) are doing to ensure that current and future generations of Stark Countians have a high quality of life because they have living wage or better jobs.

Disappointingly, The Report has been getting only fragmented glimpses from these officials which leads yours truly to think that there is no grand plan.

However, the election of Janet Creighton (Republican - former mayor of Canton) and Tom Bernabei (Democrat - former long time Canton law director) appears to provide new hope to Stark Countians that they are on a quest to find out whether or not Stark County has a "big picture" plan, and, if it doesn't, to get Stark headed in the right direction.

The Report has always known that the Stark Development Board (SDB) is THE (perhaps, the ONLY) major player  in economic development for Stark County.  However, no public officials seem to have a grasp on exactly what the SDB is up to, whether or not those projects qualify to be the kind that Stark needs to be generating in order to sustain and, hopefully, expand Stark's workforce well into the future, and what the degree of success is so far for a board that has been in existence since 1985.

As Stark Countians should know by now, new Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton have initiated Monday and Tuesday (of each and ever week) work sessions to familiarize themselves thoroughly with Stark County governmental operations including Stark's partnership with the likes of the Stark Development Board.

For anyone who wants to be knowledgeable about Stark government (its strengths, weaknesses and potential), it is a real missed opportunity not to be attending these meetings.

It is in this context that Steve Paquette, president and CEO of the SDB appeared before the commissioners yesterday at their weekly Tuesday work session.

Paquette spent an hour going over the history, the mission, the projects and the like with the commissioners and took specific questions from Stark's county leaders.

The SCPR videotaped the session and the material recorded with the core of a series that The Report is putting together on Stark's economic development efforts.

The Report salutes the commissioners for keeping their eyes on economic development during these tough economic times that our entire nation is going through.

It would be easy for the commissioners to divert their full attention to putting out financial fires that plague Stark these days.  But they are not panicking.  They are dealing with what is immediately before them.  However, yesterday's meeting with Paquette should be comforting to Stark Countians that we now have a set of commissioners who will reorder Stark's priorities to include paying close attention to economic development within the county.

Here is a video sampling of what is going on at a Stark commissioner work session.  This one deals with Commissioner Creighton clearly setting economic development as one of her top concerns and also a look at the role of the Stark Development Board vis-a-vis the county and a specific "Q & A" between the commissioners and SDB CEO Steve Paquette.

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