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OUR VIEW - Region's localities should cooperate instead of compete

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:18 PM

News last week that Jiffy Products was intending to leave Norwalk to set up shop in Lorain appears to have come as a surprise to local officials.

The company, along with its 21 jobs, is expected to make the move by next summer.

While the move will certainly be a blow to Norwalk, it appears to make good sense for Jiffy Products. The company's facility in Norwalk is obviously inadequate it has to operate in two buildings encompassing some 70,000 square feet. In Lorain, it will occupy part of the former Ford plant, which offers more than 100,000 square feet, all under one roof.

That Jiffy would opt for such a location is to be expected.

What's bothersome about the affair is the $125,000 forgivable loan Lorain is using to entice Jiffy to move. This area of Ohio is struggling economically and every community is naturally looking for any edge it can get. Still, there's an entire world of communities out there from which to poach companies. We shouldn't be doing it from each other.

In today's highly competitive and rapidly changing global economy, traditional political boundaries are becoming less and less relevant. If a large company is considering locating a facility in Norwalk, it looks at more than just what Norwalk has to offer or at least we damn well better hope so.

The boundaries that matter for work and play are those of commerce and they are drawn around regions, not localities.

Not that we don't love our city and think it's the best place possible to live we do it's just that by itself, it does not have the available workforce, for example, a large company would need. People already travel from here to Sandusky, from here to Lorain, from here to Elyria and vice versa to work or seek entertainment. In short, we're already a region, we just need to start acting like one and working cooperatively to attract employers, not sneaking around trying to snatch employers from one another.

While Norwalk, for example, may reap the tax benefit from a large employer deciding to locate here, many of those employed there would live in surrounding communities where they would spend the money they earn. What benefits one benefits all.

What's more, smart regions are already doing this. Raleigh, N.C. is not out there by itself trying to lure jobs. It's Raleigh and the Triangle Region that is promoted. No single locality has all the assets workforce, infrastructure and intellectual assets needed to be competitive. But as a region, we do have them.

We're all in this thing together and the sooner we realize that and start working cooperatively instead of competitively, the better off we all will be.

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