Thursday, March 11, 2004

Clermont devising growth strategy

Baseball team may be part of mix

By Anna Michael
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BATAVIA - The Clermont County Office of Economic Development announced a new strategy Wednesday designed to meet the county's development challenges and help Clermont County compete for jobs, businesses and investments.

County officials also got an update on a plan that could help boost development in the fast-growing county: The arrival of a Frontier League baseball team.

Curt Paddock, Clermont County's director of Planning and Economic Development, said talks with county commissioners, business owners and community leaders shaped several initiatives aimed at streamlining development.

The initiatives include:

• The Permit Central Approach: The planning and subdivision approval process is managed by Permit Central, where building and other permits can be obtained.

"We are trying to provide a convenient ... and easy-to-use approach to getting approvals" for developments, Paddock said.

• The Office of Economic Development: The office will oversee all aspects of the county's economic development efforts. Activities include the Rural Enterprise Tax Abatement program, business expansion and retention efforts, and workforce development initiatives.

• Community Improvement Corporation (CIC): A nonprofit corporation that has a board composed of private and public sector leaders. The corporation will assist with land transactions that lead to industrial and commercial investments. The CIC will have up to $500,000 transferred to it from the county.

• Business Attraction Partnership: A non-profit marketing corporation governed by a board composed of private and public sector leaders who will try to attract businesses to the county. Eventually the organization will have an annual budget of about $500,000.

One development discussed at the meeting that could have a major impact on the county's economy is the creation of a professional baseball team. The Batavia Blaze could be the next team added to the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league in the Midwest.

Chuck Lawrence, managing principal of ACS Sporting and Entertainment LLC, which is leading the efforts to bring a team here, said final details are being worked out.

"We've been told by the league's office and by the Florence (Ky.) organization themselves that upon finalization and formalization of a deal with the Florence organization regarding their territorial rights, that we would be more or less a sure-bet member of the league itself," Lawrence said.

,Lawrence said by the end of the month an agreement will be reached with Florence allowing the Blaze to move forward.


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