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Beachwood Contracts for Economic Development

Former Warrensville Heights staffer and two consulting firms will plan Beachwood's economic development strategy

Beachwood now has an economic development team that includes Brad Sellers, formerly Warrensville Heights’ economic development director, who had a hand in bringing the Eaton headquarters to the city, and two consulting firms.

The city’s economic development department, which was founded by the Beachwood Area Chamber of Commerce and taken over by the city in 2009, was dissolved earlier this year because of its cost.

No similar economic development operations were in place at the end of February, when the last piece of the department — Director Vince Adamus — left the city.

“In recent months, we have paused to evaluate our approach to business retention, expansion and recruitment,” said Mayor Merle Gorden in a press release.

He added, “This is the right time to look at how we remain a competitive, leading business center, not only in Ohio but throughout the Midwest.”

The team will evaluate Beachwood’s current economic state and recommend a strategy for attracting further development — and of what kind.

Monday council approved ordinances that established Sellers’ position running the day-to-day economic development operations, as well as contracts with SZD Whiteboard, an economic development consulting firm that will lead strategic planning, and Lesic and Camper Communications for public relations.

In total, the team will cost the city roughly $168,000 this year. SZD Whiteboard is a one-time $80,000 contract for duties that are scheduled to be complete by September and Lesic and Camper Communications are on a six-month contract for $5,000 monthly. Sellers will make $68,000 for the remainder of this year.

The ordinances do not define contracts past the end of 2011.

Sellers worked in Warrensville Heights for 10 years, during which the city saw more than $500 million in new construction and private sector investment and 3,900 jobs, according to a Beachwood press release.

The SZD Whiteboard team includes Mark Barbash* and Steve Schoeny, who have both worked high-ranking jobs in the Ohio Department of Development; and Mark James, who has consulted with large cities such as Charlotte, Nashville and St. Louis.

Lesic and Camper Communications’ other clients include Pfizer, the Wolstein Group and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum.

*Editor's Note: The original version of this article misspelled Mark Barbash's name.

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