City ponders development director post

by Mike Lesko | reporter Published:

Aurora -- Councilman John Kudley said he believes the city administration and City Council should examine its approach to economic development.

"I have always been a proponent of creating a position within the administration which is dedicated to the overall economic development of the community," said Kudley at a recent committee of the whole meeting.

Currently, Aurora does not have an economic development director.

"While the past focus has primarily been directed at attracting businesses to our industrial zone districts, it is critical to work at bolstering our retail areas," Kudley said. "Not only does the city need to continue to attract new businesses, but also emphasis needs to be directed at the retention of existing establishments."

Kudley pointed to the city's master plan update, which is under review by city leaders, that calls for "an environment that is conducive to development and growth of business ..." by "developing a comprehensive business attraction and retention strategy."

"The plan encourages the city to explore the feasibility of hiring a full-time economic development professional whose sole responsibility is job retention and attraction," Kudley said.

Mayor James Fisher said enhancing the city's economic development program can be "a complicated task."

"THE APPROPRIATE question is how the city of Aurora will take economic development to the next level vs. determining if the city needs a full-time economic development person," he said Dec. 9.

Fisher said the leadership of the city, which includes the mayor's office, City Council and a select number of directors, will focus on the issue.

They will assess Aurora's industrial, commercial and retail playing field, define Aurora's competitive advantage and create a profile that will assist targeting future businesses, Fisher said.

In addition, he said the city will recognize "external resources that will add value to this effort, including but not limited to, current Aurora business leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, local and commercial real estate professionals and the Portage Economic Development Board."

"For many years, economic development has been a key building block for the city of Aurora, and the importance is greater when considering the critical impact on the long-term stability of the city," he said.

Fisher said Council "has embraced and recognizes the need to enhance economic development. Based on the exploratory efforts of leadership, the next steps will include defining a strategy and objectives, addressing head count needs and necessary funding levels."

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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