Wednesday, December 19, 2012


A "feel good" article?

Kind of looks like it to the Stark County Political Report.

The Report took a look at the underlying study and sees nothing which identifies exactly what specific companies have generated the claimed increase of 1,400 high tech jobs in Stark County in the Canton/Massillon area.  Nor does the study specify job titles for the supposed high tech jobs that Stark has in 2012 that it did not have in 2005.

Of course, Canton mayor William J. Healy, II is front and center seemingly claiming credit for helping create what appears (for lack of identify specific companies except for Timken and Diebold) to be jobs that it is hard to get a particularized grip on from reading the Bay Area Council of Economic Institute (BACEI) published study.

Healy:  “We are thrilled to hear we are one of the top 15 high-tech job cities in the country."


The study says Canton/Massillon area?  And, that is to say "area" equates to the city of Canton?

Okay, Mayor Healy.  Who are the companies located in Canton city limits?  What are the job titles and what salaries/wages do they generate?

Need a little help in identifying high-tech jobs mayor?

Want to try again mayor?

To be fair to the BAECI, the study is a prime case of everything being relative.

First of all, the study refers to a broad classification of jobs:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (hence STEM).  But such a reference is to very broad categories which take in a lot of territory.

Secondly, while it does get a little more specific in referring to:
  • medical professions, 
  • scientific research and development services, 
  • software publishers, 
  • Internet publishing and broadcasting, and 
  • data processing,
the study does not develop a nexus between those subcategories of STEM to companies in the Canton/Massillon area that have created actual/specific jobs.

Moreover, the study speaks to a 10%/13% increase of 1% of the total jobs in the Canton/Massillion "area."


Ten (thirteen) percent of one percent is not all that impressive, no?

A case of making numbers say more than the really say?

The Report thinks so.

Overall, Akron (3% of total jobs), Cleveland (3.8% of total jobs) and Ohio (4.1% of total jobs) is outpacing Stark County.

So what is all the ballyhoo about?

And, again:  no "real" identification by locals, to wit:

From Pritchard's article:   "Paquette [Stark Development Board CEO) cited Timken’s work with wind turbines and the fuel cell developments by Rolls Royce as possible contributors to the high-tech job growth."  (emphasis added).


If there are 1,400 high tech jobs now that were not here in Stark in 2005, I really can't tell you where they are and title them and assign an income figure to them.

From Stark's economic development czar?

Now that's impressive, isn't it?

Kind of like when Tom Harmon was county commissioner.  Reacting to a series of blogs by the SCPR chiding the commissioners for not developing a gameplan for bringing jobs to Stark County.

At a subsequent commissioners meeting, Harmon comes waltzing into the commissioners' meeting room and on seeing yours truly hands me what he described as being an economical development plan.

"How's that for economic development he bellowed out."

 In hindsight, The Report can say:  "not much!"

Harmon's plan, working in concert with local attorney Elizabeth Burrick (a horse show lover),  consisted of an idea of building a horse show arena on the Stark County fairgrounds.

Initially, the Stark Development honcho Paquette said it was not a feasible idea.  That did not go over well with Harmon et al.  Guess what?  Over time Paquette modified his view to say maybe.

Guess what again?

The arena has NOT been built.

And even if it had been, a single facility on the sprawling Stark County fairgrounds complex is not evidence that Stark County had a plan for a rehab, a restructuring of the deteriorating facilities on the grounds that would be a start towards creating a state-of-the art revitalized fairgrounds that could be both a Stark County community center and an additional tourist/convention complex center.

If Stark County had any big-picture, visionary leadership (attention:  Leadership Stark County), perhaps, Stark Countians might have hope that the fairgrounds could reach its potential.

But the evidence is that no such leadership exists in Stark.

From Pritchard's article:  "Healy noted that Canton has worked hard in recent years to recruit and welcome innovative companies to the area. The city has seen economic development, which has helped cut unemployment."

Are the 1,000 call center jobs at VXI high-tech, high paying by the mayor's definition?

Probably, from a mayor who likes to throw everything in "including the kitchen sink" in support of whatever point he is making. 

How about a little chapter and verse Mayor Healy as to companies, specific jobs and the income they are producing for actual employees?

Other reasons that the study is suspect to the SCPR in terms of real significance to the Stark County economy (and in particular the city of Canton) include:
  • with all of Canton's crime problems, do highly paid, personal security conscious high-tech types really want to come in live in Canton?
  • does Canton have a collection of attractions which make prospective high-tech types of young generations of Americans who are highly education making high incomes say to themselves:  "you know what, Canton, Ohio is really at the top of my list of a place I would like to live."
The Report is highly skeptical that Stark County (which the SCPR thinks is a more accurate to identify the geography than Canton/Akron area) is on the threshold of becoming the Silicon Valley of Ohio.

Nobody wishes more than the SCPR that there be justifiable optimism that Stark in on the verge of a break through on economic development.

Over the past five years The Report has written many, many blogs chiding local government and economic development officials for "standing in place."

Last year the Stark County commissioners put $0 into economic development with Paquette's Stark Development Board.

And this year, maybe $50,000.

Pathetic, no?  But the county has no money.  It is barely getting by.

The closest thing that might suggest reality-based hope might be the oil/gas fracking industry.

Louisville in particular has made an impressive move forward in tapping into the promise that fracking might bring.

But for all the hype that Mayor Healy made earlier this year with his designating Canton as The Utica Capital, as time rolls on, it seems, the proclamation is turning out to be vintage Healy spin.

The SCPR doesn't understand the point of Pritchard's article and Healy's and Paquette's excitement.

Gin up the data, such as it is, all you want, but it still comes down to:

Where's the beef?

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