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Joint solutions lead to better economics

Jack Taylor

It’s hard to find a business periodical that doesn’t address the subject of economic development at some point. When the subject of economic development comes up, most people equate that to attracting new businesses to an area – and the range war begins.

With so many of our local businesses working hard to survive what has been a flagging economy, should we be talking about bringing more businesses here?

If there are more businesses here, aren’t we also talking about population growth? Do we have the infrastructure to support the growth that will occur and who is responsible for supporting that growth? Will this population growth ever end?

Before we get too far along in discussions we might have about this, I propose we look at economic development from a different perspective. A primary role of any Summit County Chamber of Commerce is assisting with the retention of existing businesses. We need to identify existing and potential challenges to the local economy. Once these interests and concerns are identified, the community comes together to pose possible solutions that can be worked on together.

The shared vision is one in which we continue to create the best economic environment for those who do business here. I’d like to think that the harder we work to address our challenges, the better the economic environment becomes. A better economic environment will undoubtedly attract new business to the area. New business creates new jobs and, in turn, will likely increase our population.

As long as we have economic growth, we will have population growth – it’s that simple. If you don’t believe that, just look at what happened in Summit County in the 1980s and 1990s. Our local governments have done a good job formulating master plans for their locations.

These plans are available for review and are updated regularly. If my assumption about continued growth is correct, it would be wise for us to formulate long-term programs for attracting the businesses we desire. If we are serious about economic diversity, the businesses we should attract are not necessarily tourism-related. They should be businesses that provide goods and services to those of us who live here. Part of that attraction is making certain that we are planning and zoning for responsible economic growth.

Addressing challenges is much more difficult when we are reacting rather than planning ahead. We have an opportunity to do that at the front end of an economic recovery. Let’s not pass that up.

Jack Taylor is executive director of the Summit County Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at

(970) 668-2051 or jack@summitchamber.org.


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