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City official: ProMedica’s plan will kindle development

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    Sapara

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    Matt Sapara, Director of Business and Economic Development at City of Toledo, listens as ProMedica and KeyBank officials talk about moving to the old steam plant in downtown Toledo, during a meeting at the Blade on Thursday, January 30, 2014.

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Sapara

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The city of Toledo’s chief economic development official told councilmen Thursday that ProMedica’s plan to consolidate 700 employees downtown after buying and renovating the vacant former Toledo Edison Steam Plant, along with occupying part of the adjacent KeyBank building, would be a spark for other development.

“Any time you have the opportunity to put 700 jobs into a downtown location — understanding that the vast majority of those jobs are current positions, but there will be some new jobs created with this — the catalyst it is going to create for future development for the city is something we are very supportive of,” Matt Sapara said.

The Collins administration is working with other entities, including the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and state, on incentives for the hospital operator, Mr. Sapara said. It could include financial assistance to build an underground garage at Promenade Park on the former Federal Building site.

Though the time frame is tight, company plans for a parking garage could be added to the city’s wish list for state funding.

“ProMedica has been very, very respectful about the impact [on] the former Federal Building site,” Mr. Sapara said. “They recognize the prior administration’s importance [of] that site.”

He said the company wants to enhance the location while serving the need for the public to keep its green space and the company’s need for nearby parking.

Councilman Rob Ludeman said emails he received were focused on the park’s future.

Councilman Tyrone Riley questioned how the company’s plans would impact events held along the Maumee River at Promenade Park.

Mr. Sapara said he believed the move would enhance those events.

Councilman Jack Ford, who previously worked for ProMedica as corporate director of affirmative action, cautioned against offering too much in incentives. “I hope you are prepared to negotiate at arm’s length and be firm. ProMedica is a big outfit.”

The YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo could partner with ProMedica to build a public downtown fitness center as part of the campus on the ground level of the KeyBank building.

Mr. Sapara also laid out his “first 100-day plan of action” for council’s economic development panel. He said he was surprised upon starting his job with the Collins administration that the city has no document dictating direction for economic development. His plan includes drafting a written strategy, hiring the rest of a development team, refocusing the city’s Web site, and updating incentives such as city loans.

He also wants to start a business council of professionals to meet regularly.

Contact Ignazio Messina at

imessina@theblade.com,

419-724-6171, or on

Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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