By Jeff Gallatin
Bay Village Mayor Debbie Sutherland is among a group of 100 officials across the United States looking at ways of making Bay Village and similar cities first in getting and sustaining economic growth in the future.
Sutherland and Lakewood Mayor Mike Summers were two of eight Northeast Ohio officials attending the Building One America forum, which took place July 18 at the White House in Washington, D.C. The forum, co-chaired by South Euclid Mayor Georgine Welo, included discussions among local officials from across the country and national experts on inclusion, sustainability and economic growth for cities like Bay Village, which are deemed first suburbs of larger metropolitan cities like Cleveland.
Sutherland said the initial forum and anticipated later meetings on the subject by the Building One America group will be beneficial to Bay Village and the surrounding region.
“A big part of the forum was that it recognizes that changes and shifts have taken place in the nation where a lot of the reasons and people responsible for economic growth and prosperity are now out in the first suburbs,” she said. “They make the distinction from other cities or other outer-ring suburbs and focus on cities like Bay, which have been in existence for a large number of years. Those type of communities are where a lot of the people who will help sustain economic growth have gone to and will be working from.”
Sutherland, a strong proponent of regional projects in recent years, said the forum touched on many of the themes espoused by advocates of regionalism.
“You really can’t just go it alone anymore for the most part,” she said. “You have to be able to work with other communities and areas to get ahead in many areas.”
Sutherland said the officials and national experts discussed a wide range of ways to try and make their communities, regions and the nation as a whole more stable.
“‘When you have stability, then economic growth will follow, and we all get the benefits of that,” she said.
Having a strong school district is one example she cited.
“When you have a strong school district, people will either stay in your community or want to move into it,” she said. “When you have the schools and a strong residential base, businesses will want to be there. It’s something we’ve worked at for a long time.”
Sutherland said the group also discussed other economic development strategies.“It’s been an important area of discussion for a number of years, this helps focus it into an area more specific to us and other similar cities,” she said.
Being able to discuss different ideas and potential strategies with both other local officials and national experts was nice, Sutherland said.
“It was a nice mix of different people and groups,” she said. “It goes along with the idea that working together, we can be more productive and get more done for all of us.”
Sutherland said she anticipates future meetings and events involving Building One America, adding that she will participate when possible.