Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Expenditure of North Canton City Funds for a Sign at the Akron Canton Airport

Prepared Comments Made To
January 10, 2005

I would like to address my comments to this council regarding the recent expenditure of funds to place a sign at the Akron Canton Airport and ask how anyone thinks this expenditure will generate any financial return on investment for the City of North Canton.

Yes, North Canton is a nice place to live. That is why we all choose to live here. But so are thousands of other communities throughout the United States.

When a business spends money for advertising, central to that expenditure is a product or service that is being sold. And in the sale of that product or service, the advertiser will recoup the cost of the advertising expense when a product is sold or a service is provided.

The Repository reported last Wednesday, January 5, 2005, that $40,000 was being spent from the city’s economic development budget for a sign and promotional materials at the airport.

Mr. Miller, I would like to thank you for taking the time to draft a letter to me detailing the various expenditures that have been made to date regarding this promotion. But for some reason, your figure of $1,600 ($900 deposit & $700 for first quarters rent on the sign) does not accurately reflect the full sixty-month costs to lease the sign location at the airport.

I talked to the advertising firm, INTERSPACE, that handles the advertising at the Akron-Canton Airport and learned that the contract for the airport sign is for sixty-months at a monthly rate of $300. This will result in a cost of $18,000 just for rental space for the sign at the Akron-Canton Airport.

How will North Canton recoup the expenditure of funds for this sign?

What is it, exactly, that the City of North Canton is selling? Is it selling the fact that people could come to North Canton and have a burger at Swenson’s on North Main Street or get their car washed at the SuperWash on East Maple Street?

If this sign does result in increased retail activity such as this, will this generate enough income to the City of North Canton to offset the $40,000 in advertising expenses that have been expended?

If this expenditure of $40,000 could increase the number of well paying jobs and commercial businesses for the City of North Canton, the next question is, where would
you locate any new business that desires to be in North Canton?

I am familiar with the loss of two North Canton businesses in the last year or so that left the city because there was nothing available in the city to accommodate their needs.

One of the businesses was a small manufacturing facility that was lured away from North Canton because they had outgrown their facility and there was no suitable facility to move to in the city.

(An interesting side note is that the owner of this company told me that he was unable to get anyone from the City Hall to assist him when he called to inquire about relocating his business within the city. This business owner, who had operated in the city since 1980 also said that North Canton was anti-business. This business has moved out of the city and along with it, nearly thirty jobs.)

More recently, North Canton lost another business that had operated in the city for the last six years and was forced out of its facility on North Main Street by the landlord. This facility was Stark Security, owned by former Canton Mayor, Richard Watkins. Although, former Canton Mayor Watkins wanted to remain in North Canton, no suitable facility could be found. Stark Security has recently relocated its business out of the city.

North Canton has no industrial park or office park. There is no land for development that will bring substantial numbers of well-paying jobs to the city. So, I have to ask, how will the expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars for this sign at the Akron Airport pay for itself?

In my conversation with INTERSPACE, regarding airport advertising, I discovered that the only other municipality that has signage at the Akron Canton Airport is the City of Akron. Why does the City of Canton not have signs at the airport?

Do you think the City of Canton is missing out on a great venue in which to present itself to the public or do you think Canton feels that funds expended in this manner are not cost effective? Everyone knows that Canton has plenty of facilities available for development, unlike North Canton.

Many communities in Stark County have both land and/or facilities begging for new business but apparently they do not believe it is cost effective to place a sign at the airport.

What will the expenditure of these funds bring to a city that has no acreage for development?

It looks as though you are spending public monies for pie in the sky as you wish on a star that something miraculous will magically restore the thousands of jobs that have left North Canton along with the Hoover Company.

All of this time and money, spent for a “Lovely Image” when the businesses you already have in North Canton are being ignored. I visited with businesses when I was a councilman and the first thing they would tell me is that I was the first person from the city to ever meet with them.

Mayor Rice, I would like to know what you do as mayor to retain existing business and what you do to attract new business and jobs to North Canton. And, I do not mean more part-time car hops, or part-time gas station clerks or part-time car wash attendants.

Mr. Dick Fano, the owner of Aero Tech as well as Laura’s, has been begging for relief from sanitary and storm sewer damage for years for his two businesses on North Main Street. As a councilman, I saw residents come to this council begging for relief and asking for assistance from similar damage. I personally know of residents who have left this city because of flooding issues along the Zimber Ditch.

The $40,000 that you are literally throwing away would have gone a long way to shoring up Mr. Fano’s economic ties to this city and shown him that this city does care about his business and what his business means to this city.

If residents were provided timely assistance from flood relief when requested recently, they too, would feel that North Canton values their contribution to this city’s tax base.

North Canton has many infrastructure issues: inferior water lines that affect water quality and fail to provide adequate fire protection, flooding from major tributaries that have been ignored, and sanitary and storm water problems that plague many areas of the city.

Creating a “Lovely Image” as the Repository calls this campaign does nothing to correct any of these problems that affect residents and businesses alike.

What makes this expenditure even more absurd is the fact that the money expended for the airport sign must come from the city’s carryover which has declined precipitously in the last three years.

The funds expended on the sign at the Akron-Canton Airport simply accelerate the depletion of North Canton’s cushion against declining revenues, and provide nothing tangible in return.

Lastly, I would like to point out to everyone that the North Canton Chamber of Commerce already has promotional literature at the Akron Canton Airport. This is their latest publication.

It would seem to me that the sign at the Akron Canton Airport is a duplication of the Chamber’s efforts.

In addition, Walsh University also promotes North Canton with its presence in the community. This is one example of their literature that is passed out in their efforts to enroll new students.

Each of these organizations does an excellent job promoting community development.

What North Canton needs is Economic Development and that will require more than a pretty sign!

Thank you
Chuck Osborne