Politically independent Mayor Mike Bell, facing a tough re-election primary next week against two Democratic opponents and others, joined a Democratic councilman and Republican councilman Tuesday to announce plans for a “one-stop-shop” city Web site for new businesses.
“We have all been supportive of this for some time, but it is now entering its next phase, and that is a Web portal for business access to make us even business-friendlier than we are,” Councilman Steven Steel, a Democrat, said.
The city will apply for a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development to start creating a “Toledo Business Express” site, announced by Mr. Steel, Mayor Bell, and GOP Councilman Tom Waniewski.
The trio said the Web site would be an online one-stop-shop easily accessible for business owners and entrepreneurs to gather information needed to open and operate a business in the city.
City Council voted 11-0 Tuesday during its regular meeting to support the idea and the grant application. Councilman Shaun Enright was not present.
The idea for such a Web site is not new. Mr. Steel said he talked about a so-called one-stop-shop when running for council in 2009.
The state grant would require a 10 percent city match.
The idea is modeled after a similar Web site operated by the city of New York.
Mayor Bell said the site would be worth the investment in the long run.
Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez, who is among those challenging Mayor Bell on the ballot next week, said she offered a one-stop-shop Web portal idea July 20 when she released her economic development plan.
“It is exactly what I promised in my economic plan for the first 100 days that we would create an online system to address the bureaucracy currently in the city of Toledo when dealing with it from business. … I think it’s wonderful that the mayor has started using some of my ideas,” Ms. Lopez said.
The mayor said the “Future of Toledo” group, which was started under Mayor Bell, had been working on the Web site idea for months before Ms. Lopez put forth her economic development plan.
“There are a lot of things we are already talking about, or that are already in the pipeline, that she has brought up,” Mayor Bell said. “I don’t know if she is just not paying attention.”
Steven Cady, an associate professor in Bowling Green State University’s college of business who does contract work for the city, said the Web site idea has been discussed for at least four months.