What’s the ROI on Economic Development?

Robert New

In 2011 Berea “invested” a fairly significant amount of money in bringing in business consultant Michael Shuman to help us with economic development. Mr. Shuman did some analysis, held a couple of meetings, and facilitated the start up of several committees to focus on different areas identified as potential growth areas.

A web page was started, updates were also on the City of Berea web page, and Mr. Shuman cashed his check and went home. Today there is no evidence of Mr. Shuman’s work here other than a few outdated posts on the city’s web page. Do we have anything to show for our investment? Are any of the committees still meeting? Has even one idea that came out of this expensive program been implemented?

We have our own Director of Business Development on the payroll. Mr. Tom McCay. I have yet to see a report from him on any results of this or other projects in work.

Every council meeting the city administrator, Randy Stone, stands up and gives a report on paving projects, on drainage projects, and on lighting projects. Everything he reports on is revenue negative. It is costing us money. Why isn’t Mr. McCay, our economic development director, giving a report every council meeting? Shouldn’t he be reporting on his work with the small business community in Berea? Shouldn’t he report on his work with the large businesses that support Berea so much with their payroll and property taxes? Shouldn’t he report on the work he is doing in recruiting new businesses to locate to Berea? These are all things that should be revenue positive to Berea.

Perhaps our ROI in economic development is one area the city needs to take a hard look at.

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