Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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One step forward, two back

WHAT part of progress in economic development do Maggie Thurber and some township trustees not understand?

Just when a credible plan was moving forward for a merger of Toledo and Lucas County economic development departments, the Republican county commissioner has thrown a political wrench into the works.

The merger seeks to combine and streamline local government efforts to attract new businesses and industries to the community through a reorganized Lucas County Improvement Corp.

But Ms. Thurber, with the aid of some johnny-come-lately township officials who claim they've been left out, has engineered a court order that temporarily shuts down the reorganization pending a hearing.

Ms. Thurber complains that a public meeting should have been held to amend the bylaws of the LCIC, a low-profile group that has served mainly to approve government loans to small businesses.

Maybe so, but at least two-thirds of LCIC members already have agreed to the bylaw changes in writing, which should satisfy the state law under which the organization was created.

What's really at work here is obstructionism on the part of Ms. Thurber and township officials, who suddenly profess an interest in economic development matters. Their demands seem odd, considering that none of the townships had joined the LCIC in the 35 years it's been in operation.

Now that the city and county are finally taking bold new steps to work together on development rather than slap each other upside the head, the townships are claiming they're being ignored.

Under the plan, the reconstituted LCIC would be governed by an executive board consisting of the mayor of Toledo, one Lucas County commissioner, one suburban mayor, a township trustee, and five private-sector members. In effect, the townships would have a say in how the organization runs but wouldn't have to put up a dime.

The city and county would supply the money and the personnel to run the office, which would include a badly needed "one-stop shop" to aid prospective employers seeking to locate in the Toledo area.

None of this has been a secret. Ms. Thurber attended a March 25 meeting at which the plan was laid out in detail. Moreover, the reorganization has broad support.

In addition to Toledo and Lucas County, it is backed by an array of local governmental units that include - so far - Oregon, Sylvania Township, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the Regional Growth Partnership, and the University of Toledo.

Ms. Thurber's motives for trying to short-circuit the plan look purely political, and her malevolent attacks on Mayor Jack Ford and her fellow county commissioners - all Democrats - only reinforce that view.

The city-county attempt to unify the economic development process and set aside self-defeating local competition for jobs is a good one and deserves to go forward. It is only appropriate that those governmental units putting up the resources should have the greater say in how the new office operates.

Ms. Thurber's attempt to halt this progressive move does not reflect well on her or the township officials with whom she's allied. And it most certainly won't help to grow new jobs in Lucas County.

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