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Published: Friday, 9/4/2009

Bell proposes making city sites business-ready

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Mayoral hopeful Mike Bell yesterday said Toledo can capture jobs if it makes the extra effort to expand the number of “business-ready sites” in the city while at the same time cooperating with the area's economic development agencies.

Mr. Bell said, if elected, he would roll out a pilot program to develop a business park in the city and up to three single industrial sites to help marketers attract companies interested in location or expansion.

“It is much easier to bring people to a site that already has all of the utilities and is ready for development,” Mr. Bell said.

Mr. Bell made his announcement yesterday in East Toledo at the Ironville Docks property, which is benefiting from a $5 million state grant for redevelopment into a manufacturing and distribution center.

“This is an excellent example of a private-public partnership,” Mr. Bell said.

The project is a partnership among Lucas County, which received the funds, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and Midwest Terminals of Toledo Inc.

Mr. Bell also cited the former Southwyck Shopping Center, the former Jeep plant, and the former North Towne Square Mall as possible sites for redevelopment.

“The Bell administration has already pledged to partner with the area's lead economic development professionals to generate new business prospects,” he said. “When they bring us the leads, Toledo needs sites that are ready to work — with built-out infrastructure such as roads, sewer and water, natural gas, power, and street lighting.”

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and Council President Joe McNamara went head-to-head again yesterday over Issue 1 — which would reduce the city’s general-fund deficit this year by $3.9 million by changing the allocation of the 0.75 percent income tax to allow that money to be spent on police this year.

Council has set aside these funds pending voter approval.

If approved by voters Sept. 15, for 2010, 2011, and 2012, the allocation would go half to police and fire, one-third to the general fund, and one-sixth to capital improvements.

Mayor Finkbeiner reiterated his opposition to the measure, claiming the city would have nothing for street paving those years.

“Issue 1 is a bad, bad idea. It will mean drastic cuts to our streets,” Mr. Finkbeiner said. “If Issue 1 passes, we will have to cut city capital improvements/resurfacing by $28 million over the next 3 years.”

Mayor Finkbeiner also called Issue 1 a “hidden tax.”

Mr. McNamara called the mayor’s statements absurd and created a video posted at www.you tube.com/putsafetyfirst to explain the ballot question.

“The election is just around the corner and voters need to know what’s at stake,” Mr. McNamara said. “Issue 1 is a bipartisan plan to strengthen safety services and reduce the deficit — without raising taxes. I urge Toledoans to put safety first and vote ‘Yes’ on Issue 1.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at:imessina@theblade.comor 419-724-6171.



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