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Published: Friday, 6/11/2010

County targets 5 areas for business growth

The Lucas County Improvement Corp. is focusing on "clusters."

That's the term the county's economic development agency has given to five business areas it has targeted for retention and expansion.

At a meeting yesterday, the LCIC's Executive Committee heard about clusters and how they are part of an evolving strategic plan to support existing businesses and attract new ones to the county.

The clusters are: alternative energy, biosciences, transportation and logistics, architectural engineering and construction, and manufacturing and automotive.

Within the clusters are "high-performing" businesses the LCIC will monitor closely, explained Shad Williams, one of the agency's economic development specialists.

The idea is to identify the companies' employment needs 16 to 18 months ahead of time and take steps to satisfy them.

If a firm believed it would need a molecular biologist, for instance, the LCIC could connect the firm with the University of Toledo or look for grant money that could be used for hiring or training, Mr. Williams explained.

Theo Foreman, another economic development specialist, explained how the agency was using the Synchronist Business Information System, a Web-based program that is gaining popularity with development agencies across the country.

The program allows agencies to build a database of a community's businesses that the LCIC can put to use in retaining and attracting firms, Mr. Foreman said.

In other business, LCIC Chairman Joseph H. Zerbey IV said he wanted the committee members to provide a photograph and biography for the agency's redesigned Web site, which is under construction and expected to be operational by the end of the month.

Mr. Zerbey is president and general manager of The Blade.

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