Swanton Village Council Approves First Reading of Ordinance to Establish Economic Development Commission

At the Monday, August 8th, Village Council meeting, Council members voted unanimously to approve the First Reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 33 of the Swanton Village Code pertaining to other departments, boards and commissions by establishing an Economic Development Commission (EDC).  This legislation had been advocated by Mayor Neil Toeppe during his first two years in office but was consistently rejected and voted down by the previous Council.  Mr. Toeppe maintained, as his reasoning for the EDC, was to increase the local tax base by attracting businesses as opposed to increasing taxes on the residents or scale back local services such as police, fire and infrastructure.  “The cost of government will only go up,” he said.

As partially stated in the ordinance, this new Commission would provide input from all aspects of the Swanton business community and be representative of the business community and residents of the Village of Swanton.  The members would provide a sounding board, researching and analyzing issues affecting economic development in the Village.

The duties of the EDC shall include:

 – Make recommendations on matters relating the improvement of sound economic growth and business development in the Village,

– Examine opportunities for fostering an attractive climate for businesses within the Village with respect to both existing and potential new business establishments.

– Recommend additional steps and measures to promote economic growth by retaining businesses and attracting new commerce and industry.

– Cooperate with Village elected officials and staff to realize appropriate goals and objectives relating to sound business practices and better employment opportunities.

Membership. The mayor shall appoint three (3) members of the Commission.  The mayor shall be ex-officio a voting member of this commission, The Commission shall consist of up to 5 members.  Each member shall be appointed for a three (3) year term, except for the initial members whose terms shall be staggered at one (1) year intervals. The 3 persons appointed to the Commission shall be persons whose business, occupational or professional activities are carried on in a substantial degree within the Village or have an interest in the economic success of the Village of Swanton.  Additional members may be appointed by the mayor in an ad hoc basis depending on the various needs of the EDC. These members’ terms shall be limited to specific needs of the EDC. The mayor may appoint a member of council for a one (1) year term. Council members may not serve consecutive termsThe members of the Commission shall serve without compensation.

Prior to the vote, Mike Jay, Director of Strategic Networks for the Regional Growth Partnership of Northwest Ohio, addressed the Council and emphasized how critical the legislation was to Swanton.  He explained to the members how companies will use site consultants when looking to expand or establish themselves in a new area.  Often these consultants will investigate a community without its knowledge and having an EDC in place lets them know that community would be willing to cooperate in an effort to acquire new businesses.

Also speaking before Council was Swanton resident John Schmidt.  Mr. Schmidt had circulated a petition to have the creation of an EDC put on the ballot to let the voters decide after the previous Council would not agree to it.  He related the reaction he received from fellow residents when he asked that they sign the petition.

“I had the opportunity to meet a lot of different people from many demographics,” said Mr. Schmidt.  “Everyone wanted to sign the petition for the creation of an Economic Development Commission.  And every one of them had their own specific reason.  Primarily, it was service.  The cost of service keeps rising, but nobody’s coming into the Village to share in the costs of these increases.  And why is that?”  Mr. Schmidt also said many of the residents he spoke to wanted to know why they always had to bear the brunt of the cost increases and that there was a lot of anger expressed toward the Council that was seated at the time.

There will be two more readings of the ordinance, one each at the next two regularly scheduled Council meetings, August 22nd and September 12th.  If both are approved the legislation will take effect 30 days from then.

Pictured: Mike Jay, Director of Strategic Networks for the Regional Growth Partnership of Northwest Ohio,

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