FitzGerald Floats Plan To Curb Business Poaching

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald
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FitzGerald met with the leaders of about 20 Cuyahoga County cities to discuss possible ways to eliminate the perennial problem of business poaching.

FITZGERALD: "We don't want cities looking at the assets of other communities and saying "we'll that would nice. Let's go to that major employer and see if we can tempt them to come into our community."

Such practices , the wisdom goes, pits cities within the region against each other to no one's real benefit, when they should be working together to attract new and relocating businesses from around the nation and the globe.

FitzGerald's staff has crafted a draft agreement he hopes will discourage poaching. Those signing on would pledge not to approach businesses in other cities to offering incentive packages to move. They would also have to notify a business's home city when that business comes looking for an incentive.

FITZGERALD: Sometimes businesses move without even really giving their current home community an opportunity to really be a place where they can grow, and they don't find out about it until it's too late.

FitzGerald says companies will always be free to locate or move to wherever they want, and the agreement does not prohibit cities from offering them incentives. But businesses must be the first to initiate those discussions.

FitzGerald cities of signing on would stand to get more favorable consideration when applying for loans or other support from a planned 100 million dollar economic development fund.

FITZGERALD. "So that if that fund is going to make an investment in the community and is going to be looking at competing proposals from different communities, basically they will score more points, in terms of how those projects are scored if they have signed onto this agreement."

The draft agreement is just a starting point that FitzGerald says will likely see some modification as local communities discuss it further. He says he'd like to convince as many of the county's 59 local governments as possible to sign on by sometime in October.

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