City gains new economic development official

Josh Rauch says he’s working for now and the future.

Rauch, a Dayton native with a masters in public administration from the University of Kansas, will relieve some of the duties of assistant city manager and director of economic development Tom Franzen.

Q: Before this, what was your experience with job creation and economic development?

A: While in Mission (Kansas), I administered neighborhood and business assistance programs similar to those offered by Springfield, including tax abatements and assistance programs. I also worked on infrastructure development and demonstrating city investment in business corridors, usually through road and sewer construction. One of our major goals was ensuring that our infrastructure was in good condition so people could get to our businesses. Those experiences taught me about the role local governments play in providing the infrastructure and support businesses need to grow and thrive.

Q: What do you think will be some challenges and benefits to doing economic development here?

A: Challenges in economic development are not exclusive – they’re common in all communities. Economic development is global in scope; we need to be competitive with communities all over the world. At the end of the day, economic development is as much about building relationships as it is building streets, utilities and businesses themselves. It’s about understanding what individual businesses need and how they work, and how the City can leverage resources to meet those needs. Springfield has a lot going for it, and there are several benefits to doing economic development here. We have very strong ties to robust industries such as defense and health care. We’re also fortunate to be in an excellent location, proximate to Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. We have active and involved business/community leaders and organizations (such as the Chamber, Center City, universities, etc.). And we have a host of excellent natural resources and community amenities. I’m really looking forward to hitting the bike trails this spring!

Q: As deputy director, what kind of projects will you be working on?

A: I will be responsible for Enterprise Zone and Community Reinvestment Area applications, administering city loan/incentive programs, working on grant procurement, and marketing efforts to leverage our business and industrial parks. I’ll also be working closely with city and community leaders on expansion and retention opportunities for existing businesses, and on attracting new businesses to our area.

Q: What is your strategy for successful economic development in a community?

A: It all comes back to building, maintaining, and growing productive relationships. That allows us to match what the city offers to the needs of existing and potential businesses. Development needs to happen in a way that’s synchronous with the community’s vision and goals, but also cognizant of present market conditions and opportunities. It’s about matching opportunity to the community’s vision of Springfield. There’s also the need to think outside the box and see possibilities for the future. The Iroquois notion of sustainability – working not just for “now” but for the seventh generation into the future – is a powerful motivator for me. I’m working for the Springfield of today, but also the Springfield that our children and their children will inherit.

Q: What are your goals for Springfield’s economic development?

My primary focus is on working closely with existing businesses to help them grow and stay in Springfield. I’ll also be working with community organizations and leaders to help market and advertise Springfield as a great opportunity for companies looking to establish a presence in Ohio. Part of that work involves supporting our efforts to help revitalize downtown, as well as market sites throughout the city.

Q: How long have you been in Springfield? And what do you like about it so far?

I’ve been in Springfield for just a few weeks (my first day on the job was Feb. 11), but I really enjoy the community atmosphere. Everyone I’ve met so far has been incredibly welcoming and gracious. I’m also looking forward to exploring a lot of our recreational opportunities this spring/summer, from the bike trails to the golf courses.

*Some answers edited for length.

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