SALEM - The Committee of the Whole is recommending Salem City Council contract with the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center for $23,800 for a one-year period to continue economic development efforts.
Larry Kosiba, executive director of the SOD Center, presented his final report for the past year's activities directed at promoting the city's two Tax Increment Funding zones, one on the east end and one to the north.
"I think we've done a lot to change the environment," he said.
As part of the new agreement, Kosiba would continue seeking financial support for hotels, restaurants and multi-family housing, continue targeting businesses related to the shale oil and gas industry, seek out Ohio-based businesses looking for places to locate, pursue additional grant resources and work on re-establishing the Salem Area Corporation, a now-defunct community improvement corporation.
The funding for the SOD Center contract could come from two separate industrial park funds, according to city Auditor Betty Brothers.
Kosiba told council members that several of the contacts he made are still active, such as the restaurant Eat'nPark, which he said is more active now because of the plans for the Holiday Inn Express near Home Depot, but isn't part of this year's development plans. He said talks with a couple of investment groups remain active.
A lot of the discussion involved re-starting a community improvement corporation, a non-profit economic development which could secure funds for businesses or to renovate buildings. Committee Chair Councilman Dave Nestic said that could be the means to do something about the TanFastic building, which has become a bigger problem for the city since falling bricks caused the closure of the sidewalk and some parking spots in the downtown on State Street.
The building had already become a problem after owners didn't make repairs ordered by the city and ended up in court with the city. The city has reopened the case since nothing had been done to fix the building as required in an agreement reached in February.
Nestic said a CIC could be tool for getting things done that the city can't do as a public body.
The fate of the TanFastic building currently lies with the court. Nestic explained a scenario where the building could be donated to the CIC, the CIC could seek funding to do repairs and then lease the building out or sell it and use the money to buy additional properties to renovate.
He wasn't positive that it could be pulled off with the TanFastic building, but he said it's an idea.
The proposed contract with the SOD Center will have to be considered by city council.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org