LIMA — Lima has joined together with other small- to mid-sized cities in Ohio to rebrand themselves as “Ohio Reinvention Cities” in order to push state policy initiatives that make them more competitive in today’s changing economy. The move is led by the Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC).
In a recently released document, the GOPC names a number of state policies to make their vision a reality. From attracting talent to rehabilitating aging housing and infrastructure, the organization lays out extensive funding assistance and subsidy strategies that state lawmakers can roll out.
GOPC Executive Director Alison Goebel said further discussions between representatives from each city will help the non-partisan policy group prioritize the best approach to enacting economic development through legislative action.
Allen Economic Development Group President/CEO Jeff Sprague is acting as Lima’s representative. Sprague said the benefits of working with the GOPC is being able to identify what Lima can do to strengthen its weaknesses by comparing what other similar communities have done. It also allows cities like Lima to organize under a single banner to push for policy change.
“The Greater Ohio Policy Center has allowed us to have a platform to speak as one voice,” Sprague said.
Reinvention cities are defined as cities with fewer than 65,000 residents that have lost population since their 20th-century peaks. For Lima, the city hit its population peak in the ’70s at roughly 53,000 people and has since been shrinking. Lima’s current population stands close to 38,000 people and trends downward.
Since quality of life acts as a major variable in attracting a workforce, Sprague said one of his priorities in working with the GOPC is identifying how to structure financial incentives to make reinvestment into housing development in the region competitive with larger markets.
As for the document’s timeline, Goebel said although initiating talks between cities and crafting the vision document have been solid signs of progress, much remains to be done before legislative action can be taken.
“The challenge is clear,” the vision document released by the GOPC reads. “These communities need support and investment as they reorient to be competitive in today’s economy. Small legacy cities must reinvent themselves — by building on their past, these communities can find new opportunities to thrive in the future.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.