Consultants told Beachwood council members they should strive for a top-notch economic development program within two years.
An economic development team, presented their final action plan to Council during a special meeting Monday night.
Councilman Fredric Goodman admitted that the city has been “getting our butts kicked” in attracting and retaining businesses. and last month
Council President Mark Mintz said that the study is a step to implementing a comprehensive plan for the city. “I can’t sit here now and tell you how many of these recommendations that we are receiving here tonight will ultimately be adopted,” he added. But he encouraged residents to become a part of the process.
“Tell us what we should and shouldn’t be doing to retain and grow Beachwood’s economy and job-providing business sector,” he said.
The team — which includes Steve Schoeny of SZD Whiteboard, Mark Barbash, former economic development director of the city of Columbus, and Mark James from ED Solutions — outlined specific weaknesses in Beachwood’s ability to attract businesses: the city does not have an incentives program or much space for new development, and
The plan, which the city may implement its entirety, in part or not at all, calls for a $385,00 to $425,000 initial investment and around $322,000 annually.
The report’s recommendations focus on establishing an economic development program; as it stands, the city does not have a department, incentives or other set programs that specifically support economic development.
And the incentives do not have to break the bank, stressed Barbash. “You don’t have to throw in the kitchen sink. In many cases it’s not how much, it’s the fact that I know that I can get $25,000 to fix this problem in this building so I can fix that problem and I can move on to something else.”
Recommendations include hiring a full-time economic development director, drafting job creation incentives, and focusing revitalization in Commerce Park.
Beachwood Chamber of Commerce Director Wayne Lawrence praised the team’s report. “One of the reasons we may not have attracted some of these companies is because we may not have had the right tools at the right time,” he said.
Michael Silver, co-founder of Beachwood Residents for Responsible Development, asked if the study took into consideration the impact its recommendations would have on Beachwood’s residents. For example, bringing new jobs would bring more traffic, he said. “How many more jobs can Beachwood support?”