Just My Opinion – Why Not in Swanton?

The Village of Delta was recently recognized for its efforts in helping rank the State of Ohio number one in new economic development projects in the country.  A corporate real estate economic development magazine, “Site Selection”, awarded Ohio its Governor’s Cup 2020 for topping its ranking for bringing in more new corporate facility projects per capita than any other state in the nation. 

So, congratulations to Delta, Swanton’s closest neighbor just a few miles west down Airport Highway.  And congratulations to Delta’s village administration, its village council and its residents for this achievement and the well-deserved honor that came with it.  The expansion at North Star BlueScope Steel is the centerpiece of the economic development effort but there are several more including the construction of the Nova Steel and Tube plant on County Road H, just east of SR 109.

Meanwhile, back here in Swanton, we have a village council that wants very little to do with economic development and growth, even as our local economy continues to get battered by a global pandemic.  We have a village council president, Craig Rose, who will no longer allow the issue of forming an Economic Development Commission (EDC) to be placed on the council meeting’s agenda despite Mayor Toeppe’s efforts keep having discussions on it.  We have another council member, Mike Rochelle, who strongly supports Mr. Rose’s stance on the issue and we have the other four council members who, by agreement or by their silence, keep the issue and chances for growth suppressed.

Economic development could include anything from small business enterprises to large corporations building a manufacturing facility or a distribution center.  But unless the Village of Swanton can put its story out there for potential businesses to see what it has to offer, it’s a tree falling in the forest with no one around to hear it.  An all-volunteer EDC serving as an advisory board to the council just might be able to help shine a light on our town but not unless the village council allows it.

What I find perplexing is that the two strongest opponents to the EDC, Mr. Rose and Mr. Rochelle, are business men.  Mr. Rose sells commercial real estate.  You know, property such as land, buildings or other structures for tax-paying businesses to use.  Mr. Rochelle is a bank executive.  Banks make a profit from lending money to tax-paying businesses and people wanting to start a business.  You would assume that economic development would be right up their alley.  And maybe it is, but apparently not if that alley happens to be located in Swanton, Ohio.

Mayor Toeppe’s primary goal from the time he took office in January of 2020 is to expand the tax base of the village to maintain and even improve all village services without increasing the tax burden on the residents.  The best way to do that is to bring in new businesses and increase business for ones that are already here.  However, only the Swanton Village Council has the authority to make that happen and their actions and decisions on the economic from have been nothing short of counter-productive.

How long can Swanton sustain the current situation?  It may be difficult to say but in giving her presentation of the village’s Permanent Budget for 2021 to the council in March, Finance Director Jennifer Harkey said, “Overall, the financial health of the Village is stable.  However, as discussed previously, it will be a challenge to maintain the level of services provided by Governmental Funds as costs continue to rise at a faster rate than revenues increase.”

Where will the money come from when the financial health of the village is no longer “stable”?  Mr. Rose and Mr. Rochelle represent just two of the six votes on council, but their anti-business agendas receive little opposition from the other four voters.  It does not look like there will be any help soon coming from the rest of the council.  Fortunately, four council seats will be up for grabs in November, including the seats currently occupied by Mr. Rose and Mr. Rochelle.  My hope is that the names “Rose” and “Rochelle” do not appear on the ballot.  If they do, my remaining hope is the Swanton voters will cast their ballots accordingly.

Swanton does not need to be exactly like Delta and do what Delta has done economically but it needs to pay attention and learn from Delta’s example.  Swanton needs to be economically smarter and better than it is right now and that needs to start in the Village Council Chambers.

2 comments

  • Kudos Bill. My thoughts exactly. I believe the only way out town is going to move past this slump is to elect new council members and encourage individuals within the village to run for office that have a passion to make Swanton a better place to live. We currently have a village council that does basically NOTHING. They do not even want to work with our mayor on any projects or listen to his suggestions. Members of our community need to stay aware of this and by articles like yours to help
    Spread the word that council does nothing to encourage growth in our town need to continue.
    Look at our Fire and Rescue! We are losing staff there on a weekly basis. Personnel morale is at an all time low. Village council doesn’t seem to care. Attempts are. It being made to find out why this is nor are they listening to members on their concerns and suggestions. We have a fire chief that does not even live in the village limits let alone just outside the village limits. Our EMS was at one time full of compassion and enthusiasm.
    We the people need to vote in at the next election compassionate and enthusiastic village council members that TRULY CARE where our town is headed.

    Like

  • The change is coming. Citizens will speak with their votes in November. The village is ultimately run by the voters and not by individuals with no vision!

    Like

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