An Open Letter to the Zanesville & Muskingum County Business Community
We are the investors in the Muskingum Growth Partnership and as fellow leaders in the local business community we would like you to join us. Hereís why:
Economic development must be a permanent priority in any community. If you are not trying to attract new businesses you must be working to retain what you have or to assist start up enterprises. Really successful communities are doing all that and more. The competition between communities to attract and keep employers is intense, especially during economic times like these.
The unemployment rate in Muskingum County is as high as itís ever been, so obviously we must do better in this competition. High unemployment creates a drain on our local economy and erodes the market for all area businesses. It affects every business, directly or indirectly, and devalues the investment we all have here.
But at the same time we are optimistic about our future. We are poised to expand when the national economy turns around, and we have a growing list of community assets that position the area very well for development.
Clearly, now is the time for us to organize and act.
The business community needs to mount a campaign to work with local government to expand and improve our economic development effort and take advantage of the opportunities before us. Specifically, we need your help today in supporting two new economic development initiatives that can help reverse the trend and spur growth that will benefit our businesses, our schools and local governments, area non profit causes, and of course local residents.
First, in order to attract new business investment the Port Authority has developed a marketing strategy related to Marcellus and Utica shale gas and oil development that is spreading westward from Pennsylvania. The idea is to position our area as a base of operations for the companies that will be conducting the drilling all over eastern Ohio and for their supporting services.
If the experience in Pennsylvania is an accurate indicator, shale natural gas development will have a major economic impact on our community if we can make this a center for the gas industry. Through marketing, advertising and direct recruitment activities, the Port Authority is working to get on the radar of these firms, promote our assets, and propose business sites within our county. A formal marketing plan has been prepared and all that remains is to implement it.
Small Business Incubation
Second, the Muskingum County Business Incubator (MCBI) is getting ready to open the doors on its new facility. A leading edge business accelerator is being created out of a former school building, and it will provide a support system to entrepreneurs starting manufacturing, technology and service businesses. The MCBI has a track record of success with its existing clients and is poised to expand as its space increases and it launches special programs like a new food products incubator.
Business incubation is a proven economic development strategy. It helps create homegrown companies that tend to stay and expand where they are created. That is something we need in this economy. To sustain ongoing Incubator operations a steady stream of private sector funding is required to match government grants and appropriations.
These strategies can produce real results, but it will require more resources to implement both approaches. The Chamberís Muskingum Growth Partnership has traditionally served as the private sector arm of our communityís economic development efforts. But MGP does not have enough cash on hand to implement the two strategies described above. And yet they must be implemented.
That is why we are asking you to consider making an investment in economic development and help us fund this program. Private sector support and leadership is essential, and our model for local development depends on it. We all rely in one way or another on this marketplace for our business success. Therefore, we all have a vested interest in the success of our communityís economic development effort.
We are seeking contributions anywhere from $500 up to $5,000 annually, which is what several of us contribute now. The investment levels are outlined on the attached investor agreement.
We sincerely hope you will choose to join us and invest in economic development in Zanesville and Muskingum County. Letís all use our vision, take ownership, invest in economic growth, and do what is in our own best interests. Thank you.