Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Fitz-O-Meter

Establish a $100-million economic development fund


Modeled after Ohio's successful Third Frontier fund, FitzGerald's "Fourth Frontier" would use grants and revenues from Cleveland's soon-to-be-built casino to invest in local businesses.


Sources:

Ed FitzGerald, "The FitzGerald Jobs Agenda: The Fourth Frontier & Strategic Development Principles," campaign policy statement, Aug. 17, 2010

Subjects: Economy, Jobs

Updates

Cuyahoga County Council vote makes plan a reality

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald promised during his campaign that he would create a Third-Frontier style development fund that would have use of $100 million to help businesses and create jobs.

Members of County Council unanimously voted Jan. 24, 2012, to make his plan a reality.

FitzGerald had revealed last year how he would raise money for the plan. He carved out $8 million a year for the fund by laying off workers and diverting 10 percent of the county"s sales tax revenue. The money is enough to pay interest on $100 million in bonds, but the county plans to borrow money only as it is needed. Proceeds from selling county-owned buildings and interest from loans to local municipalities could also contribute to the fund.

The fund will award loans to help companies develop technology, revitalize property and grow. County officials also will work with local foundations, banks and nonprofits to secure additional loans for businesses.

As businesses repay their loans, the county will use that money to make new loans. A small percentage of loans could be forgiven, however. Other loans could be made directly from banks, with the county guaranteeing repayment.

The county will immediately start accepting applications for five types of loans geared toward attracting investors for start-ups, redeveloping properties and luring large companies to Cuyahoga County. Six other types of loans are expected to be phased in over the next four months.

Applications will be judged on the strategic fit of the project, financial feasibility, number of jobs created, location, connection to public transportation and community benefits, county Development Director Larry Benders said. Points will also be awarded for collaboration, and applicants would gain points for signing an anti-poaching pact that FitzGerald announced last year.

An 11-member panel of business representatives and county appointees will examine the ideas, with final approval from FitzGerald and the County Council.

We last reviewed FitzGerald"s progress on this promise in October after he had included the fund in a budget proposal he sent to the County Council. We rated his progress then as In the Works.

But with the council"s vote to approve creation of the fund, we can move the dial on the Fitz-O-Meter to Promise Kept.

Sources:


Ed FitzGerald, "The FitzGerald Jobs Agenda: The Fourth Frontier & Strategic Development Principles," campaign policy statement, Aug. 17, 2010
       
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, 2011 State of the County Address, April 6, 2011
       
The Plain Dealer, via Cleveland.com, "Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald to announce $100 million for economic development,” April 6, 2011
       
The Plain Dealer, via Cleveland.com, "Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announces plans for a tax-supported scholarship program,” April 7, 2011
   
The Plain Dealer, via Cleveland.com, "Cuyahoga County presents balanced budget,” Oct. 12, 2011

The Plain Dealer, via Cleveland.com, "Cuyahoga County Council approves $100 million economic development fund,” Jan. 25, 2012

Cuyahoga County Council to take up legislation creating the developement fund

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald pledged to create an economic development program patterned after Ohio"s Third Frontier Program to spark economic growth in the county.

The plan would establish a fund with assets of $100 million that would make investments in businesses to encourage growth and jobs.
   
Cuyahoga County Council is to take up an ordinance that would create the program. The ordinance, sponsored by the county executive,  is on council"s agenda for first reading today (Oct. 25, 2011). If enacted, it would create the Cuyahoga County Economic Development Fund, to be administered by the county executive through the county"s Department of Development.

The fund would be used to target four priorities: large business growth and attraction, small business growth, property reutilization and workforce development.

The Economic Development Fund would have the ability to sell bonds in $25 million blocks. FitzGerald said Monday that $100 million will be available for next year. The county could sell bonds for the first $25 million as early as December.

The program would work as a revolving loan fund, so as businesses repay their loans to the county, new loans could be made to promote more growth.

The plan still has a ways to go before it becomes reality.

The budget has to work its way through County Council, as does the legislation for the fund that is to get its first reading today.

For now, though, we can set the Fitz-O- Meter for this promise to In the Works.
   

Sources:

Ed FitzGerald, "The FitzGerald Jobs Agenda: The Fourth Frontier & Strategic Development Principles," campaign policy statement, Aug. 17, 2010
   
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, 2011 State of the County Address, April 6, 2011
   
The Plain Dealer, "Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald to announce $100 million for economic development,” April 6, 2011
   
The Plain Dealer, "Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announces plans for a tax-supported scholarship program,” April 7, 2011

The Plain Dealer, "Cuyahoga County presents balanced budget,” Oct. 12, 2011

FitzGerald proposes using sales tax revenues to help launch Fourth Frontier

As a candidate for Cuyahoga County executive, Ed FitzGerald laid out a plan for economic development he pledged to put into action if elected.

As part of that plan, FitzGerald proposed creating a program called the Fourth Frontier. Modeled after Ohio"s Third Frontier program, it would establish an economic development fund that would make investments in businesses to encourage growth and jobs.

A campaign policy statement posted online detailed the plan. FitzGerald said the fund could have assets greater than $100 million.

In his State of the County Address in April 2011, FitzGerald outlined a way to make $16 million a year available for several programs, including the economic development fund. FitzGerald proposed reducing spending to free up 10 percent of sales tax collections to generate the money.

The initiatives will mean cuts to existing county programs and layoffs for hundreds of county employees.

"We will not reduce the chronic unemployment of this region by adding to a public payroll but by ensuring that more residents earn a living wage on a private payroll,” he said in his address.

About half of the $16 million would be used to pay off the $100 million that the county would borrow to jump-start the fund. The economic development fund would invest in local businesses and carry out a five-year strategy the county"s Economic Development Commission is crafting.

"We have one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to define who we really are,” FitzGerald said of the plans. "It would be easier to try to change course gradually, over a decade or so. But we"re out of time.”

The plan still has a ways to go before it becomes reality, but based on his announcement, we move the Fitz-O- Meter for this promise to In the Works.

Sources:

Ed FitzGerald, "The FitzGerald Jobs Agenda: The Fourth Frontier & Strategic Development Principles," campaign policy statement, Aug. 17, 2010

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, 2011 State of the County Address, April 6, 2011

The Plain Dealer, "Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald to announce $100 million for economic development,” April 6, 2011

The Plain Dealer, "Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announces plans for a tax-supported scholarship program,” April 7, 2011