The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Reality Check

June 25, 2008

Quit your belly aching

Leaders says high-profile bickering hurting area

Quit bickering. Accentuate the positive. Re-invent the area. Get educated.

In a nutshell, those are some of the solutions offered by community and economic leaders who were asked “What can be done to increase the per capita income of Ashtabula County residents?”

Rick Coblitz, an Ashtabula business owner and Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County trustee, feels it starts with supporting the hometown businessman.

“We’ve lost a lot of business to outside the county via the Internet or whatever,” Coblitz says. “If the people of Ashtabula County would spend their money in Ashtabula County, that would allow businesses to be more profitable and be able to pay their people more.”

That’s a sentiment the executive director of the Ashtabula Area Chamber of Commerce, James Timonere, can concur with, as well. Timonere says there also needs to be a change of attitude on the city councils and school-boards, where bickering is at an all-time high. He says prospective employers and retailers pay attention to what’s on the front page of the newspapers, and, frankly, they’re finding the little wars tiresome and petty.

“We got to start making some intelligent decisions,” Timonere says. “We can’t be fighting these wars in the paper. The companies who are interested in coming in here don’t want to hear it or be a part of it.”

Ashtabula City Manager Tony Cantagallo knows of at least three industries in the city that are ready to exit because of the bickering. “Two of them pay a hell of a lot of income taxes,” Cantagallo says. “Two out of three of them have some of the highest paid jobs in the city. This is not a threat. People I do business with are saying ‘What are you doing there?”

“I think our community is in real trouble,” says Saybrook Township trustee Robert “Bob” Brobst. “Even though we have a Growth Partnership that’s working very hard to bring in business, I think a lot of (potential) business (investors) drive right through the area because they read about the bickering, drugs and crime going on here.”

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Reality Check
  • images_sizedimage_070165730 Why are we hurting so? It’s time for a reality check.: Main story, Day one

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_069193501 Beyond wineries and covered bridges … An introduction to reality check

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • What it is, how it’s calculated Determining per capita income is a complex exercise that — at best — is a mathematical expression of a moving target.

    In its simplest terms, per capita income is, according to the Ohio Department of Development, “the income of a given area divided by the resident population of that area.” Sounds simple enough, but arriving at the figure is not.

    June 25, 2008

  • images_sizedimage_069195701 Bad vibes: Lack of opportunities, progress make for sour attitudes Eavesdrop on conversations at the lunch counter, in the aisles of Wal-Mart on a Friday evening or around the sports bar on a Sunday afternoon, and you’re likely to hear some pretty disparaging remarks about the old hometown.

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • Finding work after prison nearly impossible A portion of Ashtabula County’s unemployed can’t find a job because of their prior address – a prison cell.

    June 25, 2008

  • County part of Team NEO marketing efforts Ashtabula County is part of a 16-county alliance aimed at marketing the Northeast Ohio region to employers and business investors, many of have never heard of Ashtabula, let alone Mentor, Akron or Youngstown.

    June 25, 2008

  • Some people just don’t want a job Ashtabula County Commissioner Deborah Newcomb talks to a lot of employers, and they all express the same concern: finding people reliable people with basic skills is a problem.

    June 25, 2008

  • images_sizedimage_070212402 POOR BUT WORKING A winter wind blew across the parking lot of the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Pantry next to St. Joseph’s Church in Ashtabula; the six adults lined up at the door turned their faces from the wind, toward the metaphoric concrete wall of the building.

    June 25, 2008 2 Photos

  • images_sizedimage_071213603 County's largest hospital feels the Medicaid pain Perhaps no one in Ashtabula County feels the pinch of subsidizing unemployed or underemployed individuals more than Philip E. Pawlowski.

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • Crime & Drugs Inc. always hiring Some “unemployed” residents find crime to be their best source of steady income. Judge Richard Stevens of Western County Court says he noticed a 50-percent increase in the number of criminal cases handled by his court between 2005 and last year.

    June 25, 2008

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