Northwood Mayor Mark Stoner recently met with his department heads to brainstorm ideas to spur economic development in the city.
The result was Stoner’s economic development initiative for 2012.
“After the new year, I sat down with all my department heads and basically brainstormed,” said Stoner. “It didn’t matter if it cost us a fortune, or if we could even do it. I just wanted us to sit down and come up with ideas.”
Some ideas are simple, such as the mayor mailing letters of support to local companies that have expanded or added jobs, said Stoner.
“Sending an `atta boy’ letter is really simple to do. Other ideas require legal opinions and legislation,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential to what we can do.”
Another idea is for the city to erect signs on I-280 to draw motorists unfamiliar with the area to restaurants and other commercial and retail venues in Northwood.
“When you drive down an expressway, there are signs telling people about gas stations or restaurants off certain exits. That could draw visitors,” he said. “If visitors are not familiar with the area, they would not know there is a Bob Evans Restaurant on Woodville Road in Northwood. We have to check with the Ohio Department of Transportation to find out how we would go about getting those signs and who would pay for them.”
Other ideas include the city buying up property to sell to businesses.
“If a property on Woodville Road went on sale, maybe the city could look at purchasing it and try to get something in there. Many lots are just one lot deep, not deep enough for bigger businesses or stores to go in. You’re just kind of restricted on what you can do. Maybe the city would have the opportunity to buy the second and third lot behind that property, then try and market it, if it’s not too expensive,” said Stoner. “We will have to get a legal opinion, then find out what kind of legislation we need.”
Stoner said the ideas need to be developed further, but is confident the city will move forward with more than a few.
“I want to sit down with City Law Director Brian Ballenger and Administrator Dennis Recker to find out what we need to do from a legal standpoint, then try and prioritize with my department heads, and then take it back to the Economic Development Committee. I like to sit down and plan something, I want to think it through. Do I want this building, or this company in there, and how do we do that? Can we afford to do that?”
Stoner noted that one of the ideas of his initiative – to promote the possible development of Northwood property adjacent to the new casino in Toledo – was easy to come up with.
“We’re the first city south of the casino in Toledo that has open space. I think that could lead to some potential development like hotels and restaurants,” he said.
Councilman Dave Gallaher, who recently raised concerns about the city not having an economic development plan, said he was optimistic of the mayor’s new economic development initiative.
“When the mayor presented the ideas to the Economic Development Committee, I was excited. The list of ideas has potential that could help us with our economic development,” said Gallaher, who is chairman of the committee. “Anything that moves the city forward is good news, and this has the potential to do that if we follow through. I’m behind it 100 percent. The committee is waiting for the administrator and mayor to review it further.”