From our Councilman John Plecnik:
It’s well past time for our community in Willoughby Hills to have a serious discussion on Economic Development. With the departure of Giant Eagle and Huntington Bank, our neighbors are rightly asking why this happened, and what we can do better. Nothing is less productive than placing blame and pointing fingers. On the other hand, we can’t afford to make excuses, and we need to acknowledge the real challenges and problems we face in our City in order to fix them.
For years, my colleagues and I have called on the Mayor and his Planning & Zoning Commission to follow section 5.13 of our City Charter to make and present “a Master Plan for the present needs and future growth and development of the Municipality.” Without commenting on why our Master Plan review is many years overdue, let me just say, we need an updated and modernized Master Plan now.
For years, no one in the Mayor’s administration has made a concerted effort to recruit business to Willoughby Hills or forge relationships with the leaders in charge of economic development and job growth for Lake County and Ohio. For example, our Lake County Commissioners are doing great work with other municipalities to form regional economic development partnerships. Without commenting on on why our administration chose not to participate in the past, let me just say, we need to partner with our Lake County Port Authority and economic development team now. And going forward, we need a Mayor who understands that economic development and bringing business back to Willoughby Hills is not optional—it is a very important part of the job of being Mayor.
But right here and now, good things are happening. Council voted to unanimously adopt my motions to open a new Police Substation in the Shoppes of Willoughby Hills and grant a tax abatement to Hospice of the Western Reserve to bring their $4.2 million payroll to Willoughby Hills. Aldi is preliminarily approved to move into the old Sears building. A major business with hundreds of jobs is seriously considering the purchase of the old Sam’s Club building. Willoughby Hills has the potential to be the best suburb of Cleveland, and best place to live, work, raise a family and retire in Northeast Ohio. As residents and neighbors, We are Willoughby Hills, and we will get there!