For over a year now, my office has endured divisive political attacks waged against the City’s performance across multiple platforms by county officials and the Allen Economic Development Group (AEDG). Quite frankly, this barrage of accusations are from some of the same voices we heard during the campaign season, and it is time that we roll the credits on this political theater.
To suggest that the City is in the way of economic development is both insulting and untrue. In fact, it was the work of myself and my administration that resulted in the creation of some of the most aggressive development tools being promoted by my critics including Makerfest, Link Lima, Husky’s most recent $2.3M acquisition, and the launch of the Allen County Land Bank. In addition, the City’s work is fostering Rhodes’ $20M investment in the Downtown, the National Bank Building’s $17M renovation, the Hall of Justice’s $2M renovation, a new $2M Lima Stadium Park, and the new $13M Dominion corporate campus. In fact, according to Lima Building and Construction Trades Council, an estimated $275 Million Dollars were invested in the Lima community in 2017. These investments included capital projects at Husky and PCS, and a new perfume building at Procter & Gamble— all projects that were professionally handled by the Lima /Allen County Building Department with hands on, direct and positive customer service. Our energies and efforts should be focused on promoting the economic opportunities and welfare of working families in Lima/Allen County.
Creating economic opportunities for local residents in Lima and Allen County demands our attention and our focus. When low-wage workers get a raise, they spend it on basic services or necessities. This creates a positive ripple effect that results in the demand for goods and services, benefits business owners, creates opportunities for residents, provides economic security for families, and creates profit and investment opportunities for developers.
Yet our County Commissioners and regionally focused economic development group would rather spend taxpayer dollars on consultants to promote political propaganda? They would rather cut funding for public transportation and leave countless Allen County residents disconnected from opportunity? Once again, our county officials have missed the bus.
The future of our city depends on our leadership. I will no longer engage in these emotionally charged conversations about the Lima /Allen County Building Department and will instead continue to focus on the real lives of real people. We will cease spending staff time on mollification of the prejudices of Mr. Noonan and Mr. Sprague. Doing so impedes economic development and progress for the entire region.
I want to ensure the taxpayers of Lima that, unlike Commissioner Noonan, I am unwilling to throw away taxpayer money in an attempt to continue to sow discontent between governmental entities. And I will say to the critics and dissenting voices - The election is over. The community has spoken. Let’s move on. We need a different conversation, one that encourages partnership and collaboration, while searching for practical solutions. We need to talk to each other, to learn from each other, to focus on how we surmount the significant challenges we continue to face as a region. Our improving economy will only be harmed by this ongoing inflamed deception by the Commissioners and AEDG.
David Berger has been mayor of Lima since 1989. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.