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Port authority to hire firm in hopes of landing ‘best talent’ to be director

Published: Tue, April 21, 2009 @ 12:07 a.m.

By David Skolnick

Officials OK spending up to $100,000 for director job that could pay $210,000.

The Western Reserve Port Authority plans to hire a firm Wednesday that will find the ideal person to serve as economic development director for Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

The firm, Heidrick & Struggles, could receive $75,000 to $100,000 for its efforts to hire someone whose annual salary will be at least $150,000 and could be as much as $210,000, said Trumbull County Commissioner Paul Heltzel. Heltzel is a member of a committee that reviewed the qualifications of the seven companies that submitted proposals to handle the director search.

“We’re going after the best talent in the country,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, who added that the best costs money.

Heidrick & Struggles, a Chicago-based company with offices on six continents, was recommended by the committee to conduct the search because of its size, staff, experience and expertise, Heltzel said.

The plan to hire the company was announced Monday by port authority members, local government officials and Ryan, who’s played a key role in pushing this initiative.

If all goes according to plan, the economic development director could be on the job in three months.

During that time, Heidrick & Struggles will screen candidates, and the authority committee would interview about three to five finalists and choose one, Heltzel said.

Heidrick & Struggles would be paid a fee equal to one-third of the director’s salary, plus the cost of its recruiting work — about $10,000 to $15,000 — as well as a separate charge equal to 10 percent of the one-third director salary fee, Heltzel said.

The port authority oversees operation of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna.

It also has the ability to make loans through bond financing to attract companies to the Mahoning Valley by buying and developing property and building and improving infrastructure, Heltzel said. The authority’s economic development ability hasn’t been used.

Ryan said he expects this effort will help turn around the financial condition of the two counties.

Money to pay for Heidrick & Struggles, the person hired to be the economic development director and other expenses related to economic development will come from $375,000 per year provided to the authority by Mahoning and Trumbull counties as well as Youngstown, Warren, Niles, Howland and the Western Reserve Building Trades Council.

Each has committed to providing that funding for three years for this effort. But a few days ago, Mahoning County Administrator George Tablack said financial problems means the county, which is providing $100,000 annually, might not have the money for the economic development director in the third year.

Other communities are invited to help fund the effort.

The person hired by the authority board would work with other economic development agencies in the area, Ryan said.

As for who will be hired as director, Ryan, D-17th, said: “Quite frankly, it’s not going to be a local political hire. I think that’s important for the community to know. It’s going to be someone [who’s] proven themselves probably outside of this area or they may be from here and have left. This is not someone’s brother or someone’s cousin that’s going to get the job done.”

When asked if that’s been the case with other hires, Ryan said that’s the public perception when a government job opens.

Other members of the committee that selected the search firm are: Howland Township Administrator Darlene St. George; John Masternick, chairman of Port Authority Board; Rick Schiraldi, director of strategic development for the Port Authority; Steve Papalas, a Niles councilman; and Rick Leonard, district director of Ryan’s Warren office.



1glbtactivist(298 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

I can't believe they are wasting taxpayer dollars to pay somebody $75,000 to find an employee. In this time when people line up for jobs. How stupid. What do those board members get paid to do. Does the Vindicator know what each board member gets paid a year to just hire others to do all the work?

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2borylie(916 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

I wonder if there's any connection from Chicago- based firm Heidrick&Struggles, to Chicago based Obama and Rahm? Rick Leonard/Tim Ryan on the committee to select this firm? I also wonder if the Vindy has an investigative reporter on this story.

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3NilesResident(14 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Hopefully, when they get this person, the answer will not be showing commercials on 21, 27, 33 about how great this Valley is. They need to market us outside of Northeastern Ohio - Like in PA, MI, VA, IN, etc. I can't wait to see what will happen - communities that can't afford to keep or hire safety forces can afford an economic development coordinator at a salary of 75-100K a year.

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4borylie(916 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Why should I stay away? You believe politicians?

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5borylie(916 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

How about you believe what you want to and I'm free to believe what I want. Only time will tell who's correct on this subject. I believe since Obama was stuffed down our throats, knowing very little about him, that someday soon the poop's going to hit the windmill. Because you've dealt with recruiters in the past doesn't make you an expert in the goings on in the slimy underworld of politics. BTW, I'm not debating the merits of using consulting firms.

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6borylie(916 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

You win! You convinced me that you're an expert. I know now not to debate you, especially since you "know" there's no connection.

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7scrooge(563 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

5 will get you 20 it ends up being:
a.) A Cafaro (or Cafaro cronie)
b.) A DeBartolo (see A)
c.) someone who contributed heavily to the Democratic party.

borylie you've got the right idea

oh, I should also put d.) All the Above

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8borylie(916 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Happy to see the frustration coming out and not necessarily at the (R)&(D)'s, but at politicians in general. Maybe if enough of us start jumping up and down enough(like the Tea Parties), others will join in and make the Vindicator take notice. I often wonder what I can do by myself and so I send off emails and make phone calls to our elected officials, but I wield no power. This is why the media is supposedly to exist, help us get heard. Think the people's paper. Do any of you think Tim Ryan cares what we think, when he knows he'll get elected around here without any effort? Do any of you think that the Vindicator cares what we think? They are the only paper in town. Thanks Scrooge.

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9redvert(2196 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

Give me a break, with the economy the way it is if a ad was placed in the Wall Street Journal for that position you would be covered up with applications. These agencies charge big bucks for background checks that can be done by local employees. Are you guaranteed good candidates from these agencies. They will have disclaimers right up front.

Always reminds me of many years ago when Government Motors hired a guy by the name of Lopez to be their new CEO. After a year they let him go with a 19 Million severence (big bucks for back then) because in their words, "he was not qualified for the job he was hired to perform". Bet GM got a rebate from the agency they hired to find and recommend him.

Ya buddy!!!!

Learn something from the posters that do not have a warm fuzzy for anything related to Chicago. They understand the "price" of dealing with the Chicago crowd.

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10sami1(4 comments)posted 6 years, 7 months ago

FYI: The President of the Port Authority is Not and Never has been a polititian. Tim Ryan is not on the Board nor is a Debartolo or Cafaro. Also, tax payers do not pay the board members salaries. There are No salaries. None of the Board Menmbers get paid. If between running a business and raising a family you can dedicate your time, I think you should apply.

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