Major economic development initiative underway in Tuscarawas County with guidance from Kent State Tuscarawas
The Tuscarawas County Economic Development Corp. was recently established to help businesses expand or locate in the county. The initiative will serve as a one-stop location for economic development.
Brad Bielski, dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State Tuscarawas, is serving as chairman of the board of directors.
Tuscarawas County commissioners began forming the idea of the corporation two years ago after receiving a report from Site Selection magazine with recommendations benefiting economic development. One of the recommendations was to formulate a single point of contact for economic development.
Commissioners then reached out to Bill Beisel, Kent State Tuscarawas Outreach Program director, to conduct focus groups to gage the community’s reactions to some of the report’s recommendations.
After Beisel presented his report, a steering committee was appointed to look into the suggestions, with Bielski as chairman. The committee utilized the experience of retired executive Dick Evans, who did some comparative analyses with other counties in the area, including Stark and Wayne.
“After that analysis was done, it was pretty clear that we were one of the few counties that didn’t have a single point of economic development contact,” Bielski said. “So that’s really what we recommended back to the commissioners.”
By-laws were approved for the new corporation and officers were elected last month, with Bielski elected chairman, Kevin Gray of Lauren International as vice chair, Doug Peterman Sr., of Peterman Plumbing as treasurer and former Commissioner Jim Seldenright as secretary.
Permanent members of the board include the mayors of Dover, New Philadelphia and Uhrichsville and the president of the board of commissioners.
Harry Eadon, president and executive director of the Economic Development and Finance Alliance of Tuscarawas County (EDFA), has been hired as the new corporation’s president and executive director. He will continue to work for both organizations.
Bielski said the new non-profit organization will not displace or impede either the EDFA or the Tuscarawas County Community Improvement Corp. from their economic development roles. “Instead, the intent is that the Tuscarawas County Economic Development Corp. is the first place businesses owners will turn to when they want to grow or locate in the county.”