The Friendliest Town In America

Five days on Mt. Desert Island – in particular, the Village of Bar Harbor convinced me of one thing: this is the home of the friendliest people I have ever come across.  The town is a tourist town – obviously.  According to locals, the town shuts down during January, February and March – referring to the tourist oriented businesses.  The tourists are gone.  There seems to not be much other work in town, save Jackson Laboratory, which with its staff of veterinarians, physicians and scientific staff are probably the highest paid in the area.   But working six to nine months a year at the beckon and behest of cash and credit card laden tourists, provides a lifestyle that is irresistible. 

Back to the people: most of whom we spoke with were restaurant employees.  They are friendly, easy to chat with, great storytellers, eager to share stories and history of Bar Harbor.  The interesting part was meeting people who had either moved back to Bar Harbor after being gone for many years or those who come up for the summer and go back home to places like Ohio and Florida for the non-tourist season.  Actually it sounds like a wonderful post-retirement to me!

The summer staff seemed to cover a wide spectrum of ages: post high school and college students to retirees.  Overall, they share a love and affection for Bar Harbor and the Acadia National Park area. After spending only 5 days there, I can see the reason for their affection.  The friendliness alone of the townsfolks will bring me back to Bar Harbor – but the landscape of Mt. Desert – in particular Acadia National Park will occupy my thoughts and dreams for a while. 

The area that it seems many tourists do not get to is the “quiet side” of the Island: Bass Harbor, Tremont, West Tremont, Seal Cove – the home of the lobstermen and scallopmen that supply the food for the restaurants on Mt. Desert Island.  In reading local papers, it seems that like the family farms of the midwest, there is pressure from large fishing companies to take over the lobster business; add to this the changing and for now, decreasing amount of cod and haddock – and the new wild card – climate change.  The traditional fisheries in this area may be impacted in ways that we cannot quite imagine.  But the fishermen are starting to see the changes coming.  This may be a quick and simplistic overview.  At the same time, we in the heartland need to heed the impacts on fish that we have shipped here … and maybe later this will lead to some thoughts on economic development … in between my memories of the wonderful people of Mt. Desert Island and the incredible hiking terrain …

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Dayton Daily News on Bike/Hike Trails: Springboro latest piece in regional trail puzzle Area plans to add to 330-mile network


Springboro’s new plan for a citywide trail system is the latest piece in a puzzle mapping one of the country’s largest regional networks.

Already the network includes more than 330 miles of paths for pedestrians and cyclists crisscrossing the Miami Valley, at a price of as much as $50 million, according to officials.

This does not include Springboro’s plan for about a 60-mile network expected to cost more than $1.2 million, approved earlier this month by the city council.

The investments come from local communities, state and federal funds, and other funders. They pay off in quality of life for area residents and draw the kinds of new companies and young, creative professionals seen as keys to driving economic prosperity, officials said.

“It’s an enormous economic development tool,” Springboro City Councilman David Vomacka said on May 16, before an unanimous vote to adopt the multi-year plan.

For example, the Outer Banks of North Carolina reported a 9-1 return on investment in trails and widened shoulders.

“Over time, more and more people are going to be using these trails,” said Charley Bowman, president of Economic Development Services in Kent. Bowman was city manager in Xenia, where a train station building has been redeveloped as a regional hub for crisscrossing trail systems.

“There is definitely a positive return on investment,” Bowman said.

In the Dayton area, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission is coordinating development of a regional network linking Beavercreek, Dayton and Piqua. The Five Rivers Metroparks and a growing list of governments, universities and other interested parties are helping to pay for the network.

The Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Planning Commission is coordinating a similar network, with connections to the Miami Valley, through Lebanon and Middletown in Warren and Butler counties, into northern Kentucky and eastern Indiana.

Today the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District is expected to award a $960,000 contract for Medlar Multi-Use Trail, ultimately designed to run from Austin Boulevard over Interstate 75 to the Great Miami.

By 2018, Dayton plans 22 projects at a cost of $10 million, as well as a new map.

Weather permitting, Brian Markland rides his bike three times a week from home in Englewood to work in Dayton. Markland is one of about 20 members who share space at the Riverscape MetroPark’s bike hub.

On weekends, he and wife Elaine ride for fun, using the hub near the Great Miami River as a place to secure their bikes while downtown or parking in cities around the region with paths or trails for cyclists and pedestrians.

“I’ve taken most of them to their limits,” Markland said.

Kettering is adding to the Iron Horse Trail between Stroop Road and Delco Park, estimated cost $973,000, and working on a connection from Jane Reece Park in Dayton to Stroop.

Late last year, Beaverceek added a plan for facilities, road widening and improvements expanding its network over the next 30 years. Middletown is seeking help funding a $1 million completion of the final 1.4 miles of nine miles of the Little Miami trail in the city.

Springboro plans to connect to the Medlar trail, as well as new ones planned in neighboring Washington Twp. Cyclists in Springboro will be able to ride to bike-friendly Dayton in Montgomery County, Yellow Springs in Greene County and Loveland, straddling Hamilton, Warren and Clermont counties.

“We’re excited for them to adopt this ambitious plan and see it as a good model for other communities in the region,” Kjirsten Frank, a planner for the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission said.


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Song for The Boston Marathon

This is a tad different than most of my posts … Jim Ballard is a friend of mine.  He’s a singer/songwriter and marathoner.  He has been playing and recording in the Cleveland/Akron area since the 1970’s and is an icon here in Northeast Ohio. And he’s been running marathons for quite a while too.  While Jim was not in the 2013 Boston Marathon, he has run it in the past, so it holds a special place in his heart.   He is offering this song as a free download

I hope you enjoy it.


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Oil & Gas Employment in Ohio

According to representatives, the oil and gas industry in Ohio is on track to create just over 200,000 jobs by 2015 (1).  2015 is when the “ramp up‘ should be complete in terms of job creation.  Yep, 200,000 jobs mostly in eastern Ohio.  There are presently 32 counties in the Ohio Utica and Marcellus Shale Region – add at least Cuyahoga, Lorain, Summit and Franklin counties in the job creation area.

From this point on, assumptions are going to be made.  There are estimates for the job creation multiplier effect, about family size and percentages of school age children.  None of these number are set in stone, though there is probably an argument that there is some degree of accuracy.  In other states (Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas(2) and North Dakota), for each job created in this industry there is a multiplier impact of about 3 jobs created in the economy for each one of the oil and gas jobs created(3). In other words, the overall employment impact in Ohio could reach about 350,000 jobs as a result of the oil and gas industry.  That is a pretty wild number (I’ve seen numbers ranging from a multiplier effect of 2.5 to 3.2 jobs created for each new oil and gas extraction job created).

To be conservative, let’s drop that multiplier to 1.5 – meaning 175,000 new jobs.  In the March 8, 2013 press release, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family services reported that the “… number of workers unemployed in Ohio in January was “399,000…”(4)    It is  doubtful that we will see zero unemployment in Ohio.  Employers are reporting that up to 1/3 of job applicants can’t pass a drug/alcohol test.  This also implies that a good portion of job creation will come from individuals from outside of Ohio.

According to industry estimates, the peak job numbers, as aforementioned, will occur in roughly 2 years.  If they cannot find qualified workers in Ohio, they will “import” these employees from other states.  From here the equation gets muddled.  Certainly, not all of these jobs will come from inside Ohio’s borders.  Drive through southeastern Ohio and check out the license plates from the south and west.

To be fair, some of the jobs created will not necessarily be permanent, but rather temporary.  In this case, temporary means a few weeks to a few years – so, it makes these numbers far more subjective.

If we make an assumption that maybe 1/2 of the revised multiplier effect created jobs will come from outside of Ohio, (83,000), we can make an assumption about the potential population impact. The average family population in this area ranges from 2.6 to 2.9 people per family.  So let’s round down just to be ultra conservative.  Let’s make it 2.3 people per family.  This makes 190,000 people into Ohio, most of the population locating in about 42 counties.  Let’s take it one step further and assume that maybe 17% of these family members moving to Ohio will be school aged children (5); that’s 32,000 new school aged children, or an estimated 1,o00 per county.

Maybe these numbers are far-fetched.  Maybe they aren’t.  But, considering that the numbers are  “toned” down from the numbers experienced in other states, public officials in the Utica/Marcellus Shale counties need to take stock of their present facilities, capacities and ability to deliver services.

1 Kleinhenz & Associates, Ohio Natural Gas and Crude Exploration and Production Industry and the Emerging Utica Gas Formation: Economic Impact Study, September 2011







© 2013 Economic Development Data Services, Inc.

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An interesting development in the world of oil & gas exploration:

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Oil & Gas Exploration Jobs in Ohio

This has been a fascinating week.  I’ve had the opportunity to talk with people involved in and around the Utica and Marcellus shale area of Ohio about the oil and gas exploration and the impact on job creation. The information was/is staggering.  According to the Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program, the jobs that are going to be needed in Ohio include 74 different job descriptions. Positions range from “roust-abouts” to CFO’s and everything in between.  I saw a tweet yesterday that read: “Welding is a STEM career – who would’ve thought?”  Very true.

More importantly, Ohioans looking for jobs in the oil  and gas exploration field need to be aware of the education and certification that is going to be required for many of the labor oriented jobs and field positions.  The industry is presently working with a number of county joint vocational schools, community colleges, public and not-for-profit universities and colleges to design and certify new training programs and new degree programs to specifically align with the needs of the oil and gas industry and the Ohio ramp-up.

Those interested in jobs in the oil and gas exploration field should contact educational institutions in their area to see if they offer programs and courses that have been certified by the oil and gas industry or the American Petroleum Institute.

Next blog: jobs and population growth estimates.

 ©2013 Economic Development Data Services, Inc.
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It’s Almost Cycling Season

Spring is in the air and that means one key thing for me: bicycling! Last year included cycling through a number of small towns in Northern and West-Central Ohio.  I am planning on more trips this year. I enjoy solo trips of 75 – 100 miles a day.  Last year included the towns of Salem, Lisbon, Calcutta, East Liverpool, Piqua, Greenville, New Bremen, Minster, Versailles, Louisville, Minerva, and Alliance.

I’ve got a few ideas for this year and training has started.  I’m thinking that Ashtabula County, some of the counties in the Utica Shale area and maybe another one starting in Piqua again. Of course, I will be participating in one of my favorite group rides this year: the Medina Ice Cream Odyssey.  There’s nothing like a ride that features ice cream from Hartzler’s Dairy.  There is ice cream at mile 24 and at the end at mile 62.  It’s a very well organized ride.  This might even be the year to jump back into the Eddy’s Bike Shop Sweetcorn Challenge, in Richfield, Ohio.

If you know of any good 50 – 100 mile rides that you can recommend, or small towns that make for a good bicycle ride (preferably with good ice cream shops), please contact me ( and I’ll work to include your town in my summer riding schedule and feature it here.

©2013 Economic Development Data Services

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EDDS … evolving

A funny thing happened while talking with a mayor and council member – a potential new client community, with a new associate, Ken Harsch, in tow. We were having a terrific discussion about zoning ordinances and economic development over a table with a wellhead area map laminated onto the top of the table. As the conversation was heading toward its conclusion, Ken began to ask about the map on the table. I knew that Ken has a background in environmental studies but did not realize all that he knew about wellhead protection plans.

The next thing I knew, they wanted a proposal on creating a wellhead protection plan. So, not only is EDDS involved in community planning issues, we are now able to offer environmental services: Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies, Wellhead protections plans and wetlands delineations. To take things a step further, we will be announcing the addition of another associate who will be providing Community Emergency Response Plan assistance for communities. The EDDS approach goes beyond fire/EMS and police emergency planning. We integrate emergency planning with all departments in the community.

Another exciting development is the recently formed, soon to be named consortium with John Barkan & Associates and Emerald Environmental. John Barkan offers personnel services including labor-management negotiating. Emerald Environmental offers specialized environmental services including site remediation, VAP and brownfield redevelopment strategies RCRA, CAA, SARA, CWA, SDWA and TSCA evaluation and compliance, waste minimization and reuse programs, wastewater / groundwater / soil sampling and assessments .

This consortium creates a “one stop” community administration/management shop.  The integration of our respective companies allows you to make one phone call and have a variety of service solutions for administrative and management problems and/or challenges. Give me a call at 330-541-3128 or email at and we can talk about whatever your agency is facing.

See our website at

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Community Development as Organization Umbrella?

A few days ago, there was a conversation going back and forth on Twitter, as well as one can with 140 characters, about Community Development and Economic Development: “Is community development a segment of #econdev? Or reverse? Separate?”

It got me thinking about the development of community. What was it that brought indigenous peoples together (on any continent)? I think of Maslow. Not being an anthropologist or psychologist, I find parallels between personal development and a community’s development. For some this might be a tad simplistic…


People came together for their physiological needs and then for their safety needs. There was procreation, safety, strength in numbers, regulating the cycle of gathering flora and the hunting of fauna. As these communities developed, people became more sedentary, establishing year round residences. Even as they followed migrating herds, communities developed, great hunts were held and bringing food back to the village.

Eventually, trails were developed, using animal trails. Some civilizations began to discover metals, creating the seeds of future industries and local and regional economies of city-states. We know that some civilizations disappeared, some because of deforestation, and the erosion of soils and their related nutrients, followed by the animals that needed the forests and fields. Their use of resources became unsustainable.

Communities moved from being places of security, to places of belonging. Systems of governance were created, establishing a hierarchy of the place, often times with influence of family and community elders.

Flash forward to today….and back to the Twitter conversation: There needs to be a re-discussion or a re-definition of the term Community Development. In the circles of city hall departments, there continues to be a bifurcation of Community Development and Economic Development – at first for organizational and budgetary purposes. And moreso today for political purposes. Economic development officials find themselves under as much if not more fire than that of a police chief or mayor. Community development is defined within the organization to housing programs, building inspection and zoning inspection. Let’s take a closer look at the organization and put Economic Development aside for a moment.

If we follow the above argument, communities are a Place. A Place in which we live, travel, exchange money for services, go to school, worship and play. A community’s development goes through the stages of becoming a place and it’s fair governance – we measure the esteem of where we live, how we feel and think about our Place of residence. It becomes defined by the housing, the schools, the streets, the parks, open space, the stores, and the churches: in other words, the Economy, the Environment and the Social Fabric.

So what is Community Development? Yes, it includes the traditional topic of housing, but it is so much more so: people, infrastructure, parks, schools, churches, businesses, safety…. What would happen to our municipal organizations if community development received the community funding priorities of police and fire? What if the engineers and infrastructure departments were placed within the Community Development Departments, led by degreed urban planners? And for good measure, if police and fire departments were led by urban planners? (sometimes, we call them city managers). Thoughts???

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ED & Crowdfunding

I’ve been doing a bit of reading in this area as of late, partially because I’ve been seeking alternative funding for the further development of our BARC service.  Like every “modern” ED technique, school of thought, approach, etc, each idea seems to spread into other possibilities.  It appears that the crowdfunding idea is so very closely related to that of economic gardening as designed in Littleton, Colorado.  It is taking the old concept of community incubators to a newer, less organized, more grass root approach.

This website seems to embrace all of the above…

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