By Jeff Gallatin
North Olmsted officials are continuing to look for ways to provide the best possible environment for both big and small businesses in the city.
That’s the message Mayor Kevin Kennedy and business officials delivered to a large gathering of area business owners and officials at Kennedy’s annual meet and greet session, which the city and the North Olmsted Chamber of Commerce held Thursday at Springvale County Club.
“We had a really big year last year in 2013 in terms of development numbers, with a lot of development at the mall, auto mile as well as other areas,” he said. “We want to continue to make the point that all our businesses are important to us and we’re here to help them.”
Greg Myers of MB3, the city economic development consultant, said the city tries to provide resources in different ways. He noted most of the city is built out, so the city has a directory of different buildings and properties available that it can provide to interested parties. He noted they have different ways of providing incentives as well to businesses.
Kennedy cited one incentive begun by the city last year, establishing a tax increment financing district (TIF) program in North Olmsted, where a specific target area is established and tax receipts are used to strengthen and develop that area, as another way the city is trying to aid business and economic growth.
He also introduced Joseph Gross, the executive director of 10,000 Small Businesses, a Goldman Sachs national business education program based at Cuyahoga Community College. Gross said the program helps businesses and their operators obtain additional business skills designed to help them grow. He extended an invitation to the officials to talk with him at the session or meet with him at another time.
Kennedy also cited a multimillion-dollar traffic signalization project being done by the city and the state in the next few years that officials say will ensure better traffic flow around North Olmsted. That in turn should give people better access to businesses and their homes, he said.
John Sobolewski, executive director of the North Olmsted and several other area chambers of commerce, said the North Olmsted business group has expanded and prospered during Kennedy’s administration.
“We’ve grown bigger than ever the last few years,” he said. “The mayor works hard at giving us a good environment to work in.”
He said Kennedy, development and planning Director Kim Wenger, Myers and other city staff work well with the chamber, businesses, schools and other community organizations. Sobolewski said the meet and greet as well as other business get-togethers, such as chamber luncheons or after-hours meetings, help foster potential growth through better communication and contact between different businesses and government officials.