BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — To attract new business, Whitehouse plans to employ a “human Rolodex” approach by creating a paid, five-member Economic Development Committee.
“If you’re going to look for this online, don’t waste your time. This is proprietary thinking,” administrator Jordan Daugherty told members of Whitehouse Village Council during their November 13 Committee of the Whole meeting.
Northwest Ohio professionals with experience in a range of industries such as accounting, business, marketing, real estate and other areas will be sought out for their expertise.
“We’re seeking professionals with a lot of contacts to go out and network and bring back leads,” Daugherty said.
Armed with an understanding of available job creation and revenue enhancement packages, committee members would identify, evaluate and target businesses that would fit the village. Once that interest is established, the responsibility would be passed on to the administrator and mayor.
Attracting the right five members – not necessarily a resident of Whitehouse or even the Anthony Wayne area – is key to the committee’s success, he said.
To compensate and motivate committee members, Daugherty proposes paying $10,000 a year to four members and $12,000 to $15,000 to the committee chair, who would lead the charge.
“We have to pay for talent. We’re asking for an extraordinary amount of time. On the other hand, it’s still a civic endeavor,” Daugherty said.
Unlike a typical committee, which only has the power to recommend, the Economic Development Committee will have the power to take action, but not to award grants or funds. Because of this, Daugherty said a committee member who might have a mutual economic benefit – such as a realtor or developer – would not present a conflict of interest.
The way that committee members will be selected is unique to the village, and the result of discussions with attorneys Kevin Heban and Gary Sommer.
One member will be selected by the mayor, one by village council; three members will be appointed by the mayor with the advice and consent of council. Terms will range from one to three years.
The committee will follow sunshine laws, meeting in an open forum and utilizing executive session when necessary. The existence of the committee is at the discretion of council.
While the council members agreed to have Heban draw up a resolution to approve the committee, the salary amounts are yet to be determined.
The village currently has a budget of $50,000 to $60,000 for economic development.
For the past three years, the village paid $40,000 a year to the Anthony Wayne Regional Chamber of Commerce for its economic development and marketing services. Earlier this year, president Josh Torres announced that the chamber would not seek a renewal of the contract, sparking Daugherty to begin looking at other options.
For six years prior to the chamber contract, the village utilized independent contractors, including Alan Mikesell and Kirk Kern, to provide economic development services.
“The problem with one person is that you’re still left with one person’s scope of influence,” Daugherty said. “We need to get multiple people out there.”
While investigating options, Daugherty also looked into hiring larger firms for economic development, such as SSOE or Poggemeyer Design Group, but those proved too expensive.
All of the council members agree that the Economic Development Committee plan is the best idea for marketing White-house and bringing in new businesses.
Councilman Bob Keogh, who is a member of the chamber, said he’s had positive response from chamber members.
“Our members look forward to working with the new board in any way we can,” Keogh said.
Council approved the plan during its November 20 meeting.