Monday, February 7, 2011


Stark County's commissioners are fully engaged in examining Stark's past (i.e. Citizens Review Committee) as is Stark County's only countywide newspaper (i.e. 20/20).

And such is all well and good, but how about Stark's future?

Recently, the Stark Development Board (SDB, Board) did a presentation to the commissioners about "the only game in town" in terms of economic development.  While something is certainly better than nothing, the SDB effort will not get Stark to where it needs to go in securing the future for oncoming generations of Stark Countians.

Surrounding counties have impressive economic development efforts underway.  Stark languishes. And the Stark County Board of Commissioners (via its budgeting process) is shorting the SDB on financial contributions which has the effect of stunting what the Board can achieve in seeding and cultivating new job building efforts.

It is laughable what the commissioners, apparently, since 1985 (when it was formed) have been putting into the SDB:  $100,000/50,000 to the Board and to its spin-off, the Stark County Port Authority (SCPA) which was created in 1995.

To the average citizen $100,000/50,000 is some serious change.  However, in terms of a serious commitment to competing on behalf of Stark Countians with nearby counties, other states and nationally for good paying jobs; it is - to say it again - laughable; even given Stark County's recent budgeting problems.

In last year's budget, the Port Authority got from Stark County?  Guess?  You'v got it - $0.

Does Stark County government's meager funding of economic development make any sense?

While the SCPR appreciates examining what is and the past so that Stark County does not repeat the mistakes of the past (which there are plenty of) through Citizens Review and a 20/20 look, that is where competing governments want Stark to be looking, while many of them are fully engaged in the future.

Medina County is beating the pants off Stark in its project to build a state of the art broadband infrastructure which in the 21st century is a highly attractive lure for entrepreneurial birth and company relocation (from outside Stark; not inside Stark like too many local governments are doing).

While he undoubtedly did in for political purposes, Stark County's lame duck auditor Kim Perez did a presentation on an opportunity that Stark has to get on board the broadband project at the Stark State College of Technology.

We will never know now, but would Perez have followed through as a Stark County proponent/sponsor of the CommunityOne opportunity?

Will his successor:  Alan Harold?  Will the commissioners?  Will the SDB?

Last Tuesday, the Stark's commissioners formed a variety of task forces in implementing a review of internal county operations (benchmarking, collaboration, et cetera).

But guess what kind of task force Summit County has created?

Will Stark County continue to spin its economic development wheels and march backwards in comparison to what nearby counties are doing?

That's the way it is beginning to look!!!

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