Archive for April 23, 2009

Community Development -Part Eight

header_lorain_ohio3
Part One COMMUNITY

Part Two- APPROVED BY COUNCIL

Part three- THE DEPARTMENTS

Part four- SEPARATION OF ACCOUNTING

Part Five- THE STAFFING

Part Six – OPEN DIALOGUE- ASK THE QUESTION

Part Seven- THE MONEY

Continuing Mark Teleha’s epic interview with the staff of Lorain’s Community Development

Note : Chris Bauer ( Chris) is no longer with Lorain’s Community Development Dept.

DEVELOPING LORAIN

Don Romancak

The one thing that’s amazing is how much work has been gotten out on such tight budgets. Everyone is understaffed. Everyone has been understaffed for a looooong time.

Jan ( Makert) –

I might add that we’re a sophisticated staff and we have the education and other departments sometimes turn to us for assistance. Chris here has actually taught GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and helps with some grant requests that come to us.

iceberg

So those are things that aren’t as obvious. I was going to add that so often what we do is a long time in doing and is hidden. We don’t broadcast it. That’s necessary at times. Because the type of work we do, sometimes we can’t be obvious. It has to be kept under wraps until the proper time for it to be advertised. There’s a lot of work being done, sort of under the surface, to make sure that it’s done correctly.

Don –

When a developer expresses interest in the City, we can’t say ‘Company XYZ is coming or has an interest.’

zip-it

Jan –

But there’s an awful lot of work that has to be done behind the scenes in preparation.

Don –

There’s been a lot of other projects that we’ve gotten into, and we’ve spent a lot of time, but unfortunately, nothing comes to fruition.

You know, typical salesman, if you get one close for every 10 leads then you’re doing good. It’s not that here, but there’s times that we put a lot of work in, and then unfortunately, we don’t get this company or we can’t get this grant, and a lot of that does happen. It’s just a fact of life.

foot_in_the_door-703355

So there is a lot of work that’s going in, we just don’t always get the results we’d like to. I think we do a fairly good job of closing what we do work on.

premier-soccer-academy

I guess one example is we’ll serve sometimes as a consultant. Chris was very busy with the Soccer Academy. They received no funding from the City, but they were looking for sites, and they hit a wall on where they thought they would want to be, which was around Avon. They just could not locate a site that would fit their needs, their budgets and whatnot.

Chris

We served as an effective middleman. We were able to hook them up with a property owner that had a site that they were really interested in. Got them together in multiple meetings and kinda mediated. They were able, from those meetings, to find some common ground, and we were able to execute the deal.

They had some very specific criteria, and we came up with about 7 sites to show them around Lorain. The last site we showed them was Emerald Valley, and they loved it, because it’s flat and there’s hardly any trees.

Don

But there was some resistance and how could you go, from some people in the organization, how could we go here, we have a golf course that’s operating. It took a little bit of convincing even though, in the end, it was the perfect site for them. Just because it was an ongoing business, it was a greenfield, but it wasn’t your typical greenfield.

Chris –

We were extremely fortunate that they decided to locate here. That is one of our premier developments.

Don –

It was fortunate, but we sort of made our own fortune. It was 7 sites, and Chris driving around with them, talking to them and calling the different property owners, and working on all of that. Unfortunately, they hit a little roadblock that, I don’t know why they weren’t able to overcome it in Avon, but we were more than…

Chris –

It was wet. Over 80% wet. Very wet and that was the problem. So this site has small pockets but definitely workable.

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Don-

This whole department really functions…Team Approach. Everybody has their niche, so to speak, and we all draw upon each other on our specific projects. It’s nice to see everybody come together toward the common goal. That’s the really nice thing about the 5th Floor. Everybody works well together, and when we have an issue, when something comes up, we’re all there, ready to tackle it. It’s kind of a nice way to do business.

Don –

And it allows that creativity as well, because Chris will see a problem one way, or an issue, and Jan will see it another, I’ll be a third, and then there’s Doug…

Chris

He’s always out in left field anyway.

Don

But everyone will come together, they bring their own expertise, their own ideas, and sometimes you have, sometimes there’s heated discussions and other times it’s simple 1-2-3.

But I think we get the answers right, or closer to right, much more often than not. That’s why when we do go down to Council, we typically do OK.

There haven’t been a lot of projects that we’ve brought down where Council has said, ‘Absolutely not.’ Part of it is, we try to communicate with the Administration and Council. They’ve given us an idea of where to go, or when an opportunity comes up we’ll let them know ‘Hey, here’s an opportunity, we’d like to take advantage of it.’

communicate2

We talk it through with them; we kinda give them our best advice on how we think it will go. Very rarely will we make a guarantee. We’ll say, ‘It’s our understanding, it’s our belief for these reasons that it’s good, but here are the things to be concerned about.’

Council and administration has really appreciated that they go in with eyes partially open if not fully open, based on our ability to take a look at things. We do try to be creative because of the limitations that we do have on our funds, on putting things together.

To Be Continued……..

April 23, 2009 at 10:52 am Leave a comment


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