Michael McDorman

Business leader: Springfield, other small cities need state help

Members of a Springfield economic development board Wednesday endorsed recommendations in a report to boost small and mid-size cities in Ohio and provided a brief update on a study on the area’s labor force.

The Community Improvement Corporation of Springfield and Clark County is a nonprofit entity that focuses on economic development. On Wednesday, board members endorsed the results of a recent study by the Greater Ohio Policy Center that made recommendations on policies that could help small and midsize cities like Springfield attract new development.

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Staff from the GOPC conducted a study involving several cities across the state with populations between 25,000 and 60,000, said Michael McDorman, president and CEO of the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

Springfield is faring relatively well compared to some other cities its size in the state, McDorman said. But the study made several recommendations that cities like Springfield, Mansfield and Hamilton should push for to spur redevelopment, he said. Some recommendations included more state funding to redevelop brownfield sites and subsidies or other incentives to spur more market-rate housing development in city neighborhoods.

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CIC members Wednesday voted to endorse the report’s recommendations.

“We really believe the Greater Ohio Policy Center is becoming the voice of reason in the statehouse,” McDorman said.

Horton Hobbs, vice president of economic development for the Chamber, also provided a brief update on two separate studies being conducted with assistance from the University of Cincinnati. One study will focus on issues like how much of Clark County’s workforce lives in Clark County and what portion lives across county lines.

More information and questions for that study are being mailed out in utility bills for many residents, Hobbs said.

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A separate study is focused on wages, particularly what area employers need to offer to provide local workers with a suitable living wage, Hobbs said. That study is nearing completion, Hobbs said, and can be used to provide more information to local companies and economic development officials about the point where residents could have a disincentive to work if it costs them benefits from social safety net programs.

CIC officials also briefly discussed a CareerSnyc program that recently started in Clark County to connect college interns at local companies with community organizations. The program, which is offered in four sessions, matches interns with professionals from Clark County who act as mentors throughout the summer.

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