Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mayor Rice Fails to Utilize City’s New Economic Development Director

Prepared Comments Made to
August 29, 2005

Last week, on Monday, August 22, 2005, there was a public hearing before this council body. The purpose of the hearing was to consider a request by a developer for an amendment to the North Canton Zoning Ordinance requesting a zone change for property situated on the south side of Applegrove Street NW.

The zone change is needed to accommodate the relocation of a new dental center to the City of North Canton. The dental center will house three dentists, six dental hygienists, and seven or more dental assistants and clerical staff.

My question to this council body, to City Administrator Michael Miller and most importantly, to Mayor Tom Rice is this:

Why isn’t North Canton’s newly-hired Economic Development Director working to bring this professional facility to North Canton?

Do we have a case of amnesia amongst all of North Canton’s city leaders? Did you forget that you have an economic development director?

The legislation to create and fund the economic development director position was passed quite some time ago and maybe Ordinance 156-03 passed on December 15, 2003, is too far in the past for many of you to recall.

Mayor Tom Rice, if you do not remember, you appointed an individual to fill the position of Economic Development Director.

That individual’s name is Eric Bowles and his annual salary is $60,669.44.

Mr. Bowles’ first day as the North Canton Economic Development Director was July 20, 2005.

Mayor Rice, I would like to know why your economic development director was not made immediately aware that three dentists were attempting to expand their entire dental practice to North Canton and bring with them at least 16 professional quality jobs until I relayed this information to him in a phone conversation on Thursday, August 25th?

On July 6, 2005, the applicant for the zone change for the dental facility met with the North Canton Planning Commission and found little if any interest from the members of that commission.

Where was North Canton’s former Economic Development Director and now city administrator, Mr. Michael Miller’s support when the developer attempting to bring this dental practice to the city met with the North Canton Planning Commission?

Where was the backing and support of the office of Mayor Tom Rice for the addition of 16 professional jobs for the City of North Canton when this zone request was put on the July agenda for the Planning Commission?

In last week’s public hearing, the developer explained there would be no requests for tax incentives or abatements. They simply wanted the needed zone change so they could build a professional dental facility. This would bring new professional jobs to the city, income tax to the city coffers, and property taxes to support the North Canton City Schools.

Property available for development in North Canton is limited under current city boundaries. The chance to bring quality professional jobs to a city with very limited land available for development should have the highest priority. Everyone in this room as well as the citizens of North Canton should be asking why Mayor Tom Rice and City Administrator Michael Miller are not utilizing North Canton’s Economic Development Director.

On Thursday, August 25, 2005, I phoned Mr. Eric Bowles and told him of this planned professional dental facility and provided him with the name and phone number of the developer. On the same day, I provided the developer with the name and phone number of North Canton’s Economic Development Director.

The next day, the developer made two attempts to phone Mr. Bowles but was told that Mr. Bowles was in meetings. By the end of the business day Friday, August 26, the developer and North Canton’s Economic Development Director still had not made contact.

This opportunity to bring 16 professional jobs to North Canton should be top priority for everyone at city hall. And the leadership on this should come from you, Mayor Rice!

A great deal of the rhetoric coming out of this city for the last several years has been everyone’s commitment to economic development. In light of the way this development is being welcomed, or should I say un-welcomed, it appears that talk of economic development for North Canton is clearly just that--talk.

I hope that I am wrong.

I ask that Mayor Tom Rice and City Administrator Michael Miller urge North Canton’s Economic Development Director to do the job he was hired to do by actively supporting Mr. Eric Bowles with more than public rhetoric.

Thank you
Chuck Osborne
City of North Canton