HUBER HEIGHTS — Does Huber Heights need a full-time economic development director?
City Councilman Richard Shaw thinks so. At Monday night’s city council meeting he challenged other members of council to explore the idea.
Shaw was responding to a challenge made by fellow councilman Mark Campbell at council’s last work session. Campbell told council he believed the city needed to come up with ideas on how to increase tax revenue in the next 10 years.
Monday night, Shaw told council he visited 14 different locations around Huber Heights and came up with some sobering statistics.
“I counted a total of 76 vacant business opportunities south of I-70,” Shaw said. “North of I-70, I found six. So the question is, how do we rectify that? I think my number one suggestion to you would be, and if this has to be made into a motion for today, I would like to direct the mayor and city manager within the next 90 days to have in front of this council hired and installed a full-time economic development director.”
Shaw called an economic development director the first piece of the puzzle to increase the city’s tax base but that it is only one step.
“I think we have serious zoning issues in this city that we need to rectify as well when it comes to our tax base,” he said.
Mayor Jeff Gore and Councilman Glenn Otto supported the idea of a full-time director.
“I think it is a very important piece to see the economic growth we all expect to see here,” Gore said.
Council Member Nancy Byrge wasn’t so sure.
“First of all, we cannot direct the creation of any position within the city staff,” Byrge said. “Secondly, I do not believe we have heard anything from the city manager or anyone else that has indicated there is a major problem with our zoning code that is preventing us from getting any businesses in here.
“Thirdly, to make an assumption that our city staff is not doing anything to bring businesses in here I think is unfair to the staff because we don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes.”
After the meeting, Campbell said he appreciated Shaw’s efforts and said an economic development director could be one part of a comprehensive plan to address the city’s tax base, but that just having a full-time director would only be a part of that plan.
Council took no action on Shaw’s request but most likely will take up the discussion at its next work session, which will be held Oct. 16, 6 p.m., at city hall. The next council meeting will be held Oct. 22, 7 p.m., at city hall.
Reach Dave Lindeman at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @HH_Courier.