Trustees will be to blame if Austintown loses project

It’s unfathomable that Austintown could lose a $20 million project because township government can’t come up with $25,000 for the improvement of a road that leads to the site of the proposed headquarters of the unnamed multimillion-dollar company.

For trustees Jim Davis and David Ditzler, both Democrats, to blame Republican Gov. John Kasich is to carry partisan politics to a ridiculous extreme. Indeed, as a spokesman for the governor pointed out, Austintown should seek funding from the Ohio Department of Development, which routinely finances road improvements.

Davis, chairman of the board of trustees, and Ditzler, former chairman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, must know that they will not get away with blaming the Kasich administration if the company walks away because of this situation. The third member of board, Lisa Oles, was not quoted in The Vindicator story last week that revealed the incredible position taken by her colleagues.

Rather than a sky-is-falling posture, Davis and Ditzler should have told the newspaper that failure is not an option because the entire region’s reputation is at stake.

It’s not hard to imagine the executives of the company that wants to locate its headquarters in Austintown wondering if there’s something in the water that causes an elected official to say, “ ... we can’t do anything,” as Davis did.

There’s a lot that can be done, starting with the trustees, along with the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, asking state government to increase the amount of money it has already committed to the road improvement plan.

The price tag is $1million, a large chunk of which will be financed by the Mahoning County Engineer’s Office. The state is also putting in some money, and the company is willing to make a contribution. It makes no sense for township government to adopt a gloom-and-doom attitude when so little is needed and so much is at stake.

A $20 million investment and the creation of 100 jobs should be reason enough for everyone involved in economic development and job creation in the Valley to assist Austintown’s trustees in finding a solution to the problem.

Hands are tied?

Davis and Ditzler contend that their hands are tied because of the fiscal policies being adopted by Republican Gov. Kasich and the Republican controlled General Assembly. But the state’s biennium budget has not passed the legislature, and Kasich has made it clear that his administration will not let a business that wants to locate in Ohio get away.

Rather than publicly berate the administration in Columbus, the trustees should have reached out to Kasich’s allies in this region for help in lobbying state government.

Indeed, the door to the Ohio Department of Development has been opened wider with the comments from the governor’s spokesman about state funding being available for road improvements.

The trustees in Austintown should disabuse themselves of the notion that they will be able to blame Kasich if the company decides not bring its headquarters to this area.

The fault will lie squarely with Davis, Ditzler and Oles — if she shares her colleague’s views.

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