ALLIANCE – Embracing the community is an important aspect of business growth, according to Mike Crawford.
The board chairman, president and chief executive officer of Hall of Fame Resort and Entertainment Company said success among many businesses in the one area lifts the entire area.
“You start to see how it really energizes and ignites the community,” he said.
Crawford spoke at Alliance Area Development’s annual meeting this week at Alliance Country Club about business development in Stark County.
Crawford detailed Hall of Fame Village’s expansion plans, and representatives from AAD shared examples of business growth and development in Alliance over the last year.
“The words ‘Alliance Area Development’ aren’t really revealing. Some people are always confused between what we really do vs. the City of Alliance’s Economic Department vs. the Chamber of Commerce,” said AAD Board Chairman Scott Robertson said. “So tonight we’ll try to give you a couple of highlights.”
The agency operates on a $200,000 budget, Robertson said, and works to provide support for the growth of businesses in Alliance. This includes providing financial aid to small businesses in the community.
“We’ve been doing this for several years through loans. We’re basically the second financer. So we take the second position usually behind the bank to help companies either buy machinery or to do a small addition onto their businesses,” Robertson said.
AAD has active loans with seven small businesses in the area, totaling around $200,000, he said.
Additionally, Robertson said the agency offers assistance and resources to businesses through its community partners, helps them apply for training and workforce grants and assists in bringing immigrant workers to the community to fill open positions.
“I more recently worked with a local company here that was looking to bring in and did bring in about 25 to 30 workers from another country, where we helped them find housing. I worked with Mount Union University to get language interpreters, get transportation for these folks,” he said.
During the meeting, AAD President Rick Baxter listed some of the agency’s developments throughout the year, including its move from Carnation City Mall to downtown Alliance.
He also spotlighted several businesses that opened in the Alliance area within the last year, including Aeonian Brewing Co., T.J. Maxx, State Farm Plaza, Alliance Area Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and the Skechers Outlet. Baxter cited the new Circle K facility, which broke ground in May and is under construction, as another example of business development.
“It’s going to be a great addition to that area of town,” he said.
Looking ahead, Baxter said the redevelopment of the Carnation City Mall is still in the works. The city plans to put the property into a tax incremental financing program (TIF) that exempts the property owners from 100% of real property taxes for 30 years.
Under the plan, Alliance would take temporary ownership of the mall before transferring it to Fairmount Properties, a Cleveland-based company that plans to redevelop the property into a retail facility.
In January, Alliance City Council reached an agreement with Marlington Local School District that would allow the district to receive amount equal to 25% of what it would have received from property taxes if not for the TIF program.
The city needed to go through legal work before it could proceed with the plan.
“The sides are talking,” Baxter said. “So we’re hopefully going to see some movement here with that pretty soon.”
Reach Paige at 330-580-8577 or [email protected], or on Twitter at @paigembenn.