Beachwood Economic Development Action Plan: The Summary

Get the skinny on the recommendations presented to City Council Monday

The final report from a team contracted to recommend an economic development strategy to Beachwood

Steve Schoeny of SZD Whiteboard, Mark Barbash, former economic development director of the city of Columbus, and Mark James from ED Solutions.

The 29-page report outlined nine broad recommendations that each include specific tasks. Here’s a summary.

Branding: “We’re not from Cleveland, and driving up here, we don’t know when we’re in Beachwood,” said Schoeny.

Steps to take:

Beachwood has a strong brand now — a qualified marketing firm should highlight the city’s strengths. Also, the consultants argued that people should be able to see Beachwood’s borders: with signs or consistent streetscapes and building materials, for example.

Attraction: “There are a lot of players in your market, but in our opinion, you don’t get your fair share of deal flows,” said James.

Steps to take:

  • Hire a firm to target businesses that are likely to come to move and that would benefit Beachwood.
  • Develop an online presence with a more informative website and use social media.
  • Market the city’s assets: Beachwood is known for clearing snow fast, but the team argues that the city should tell business leaders what that means to them (that their employees can get to work, even in a foot of snow).
  • Continue efforts to attract businesses from Israel.

Regionalism: Beachwood’s a small community, so working together with neighboring communities will benefit the city to attract businesses.

Steps to take:

  • Support the proposed Cuyahoga County anti-poaching protocol.
  • Take the lead in bringing together other communities along I-271.
  • Participate in regional business attraction efforts, like TeamNEO.

Business Retention and Expansion: The consultants said that they heard from several businesses about how well councilmen, staff and the mayor support existing businesses.

Steps to take:

Institutionalize Beachwood’s support network. Make it a priority if Beachwood develops an economic development department, and contract someone to act as a liaison. Assign the liaison a number of business visits to perform per month. Promote the city’s businesses and offer workshops and seminars.

Incentives Tool Box: Beachwood does not have a set incentives plan. A clearly defined incentive program is an important asset of the most successful cities that the team studied as part of the project, the team told council during a preliminary results presentation in August.

Steps to take:

  • Create an incentives policy that includes grants or tax credits for companies that create jobs.
  • Offer assistance to companies to develop property in the city’s business districts (like Commerce Park).
  • Use TIFs and other tax funds to funnel money to improve these districts.
  • Consider opening a Beachwood Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Commerce Park Revitalization: The Commerce Park study conducted in March 2011 indicated that the business park faces several problems, including a low occupancy rate, aging buildings, and parking and traffic concerns.

Steps to take:

  • Establish a partnership between the city, property owners, school representatives and the Chamber of Commerce to revitalize the park.
  • Market the real estate to targeted companies. Conduct annual infrastructure improvements — roads, sewers, et cetera — on the park.
  • Use Tax Increment Financing to funnel city taxes directly to Commerce Park.

Beachwood Entrepreneurship and Small Business Recommendations: The City should support and encourage existing and new entrepreneurship and small businesses in Beachwood.

Steps to take:

  • Establish a loan for new companies in Beachwood.
  • Establish a privately funded entrepreneurial center in the city-owned warehouse on Mercantile Road.
  • Keep up with the good work supporting the city’s businesses with programs like FastTrack and quality city services.

Economic Development Organization: As it stands, Beachwood does not have a dedicated full-time staff for economic development. To carry out the plan’s recommendations, the city will need this department.

Steps to take:

  • Hire a full-time economic development director.
  • Develop a website specifically for economic development in Beachwood that includes detailed information about the city, its work force, its incentives and other data that will be easily accessible to businesses looking to relocate.
  • Participate in regional, state and national economic development organizations.
  • Establish a budget: the city would need $322,000 annually and an initial investment of around $400,000 for all the recommendations outlined by the team.
  • Keep track of the numbers — how many businesses move to Beachwood, how many new jobs are created, et cetera — to evaluate and tweak the city’s efforts.

Timing: Beachwood can complete this in two years, the team asserts. Some tasks, such as approving the budget and hiring a director of economic development, need to be accomplished first.

Click here to download the full report (PDF) and here to see the full presentation.


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