QUICK FACTS ABOUT STARK DEVELOPMENT BOARD (SDB)
- SDB was created in the mid-1980s by a group of business and community leaders out of economic and parochial necessity. At that time, the economy was marked by high interest rates and high unemployment, and U.S. automakers were losing market share to the Japanese. Stark County’s economy was driven by steel manufacturing and auto industry suppliers, which meant trouble for the region in competing for jobs. Something had to be done, which led to the birth of SDB in 1985.
- From the beginning, SDB was designed to be governed by a Board of Trustees and an Executive Committee made up of community and business leaders representing all of Stark County including Canton, Massillon, Alliance, North Canton and Minerva.
- SDB was organized and operated to cooperate with the 10 local chambers of commerce, and city, county, state and township officials to enable Stark County to compete regionally and within the state rather than compete amongst itself. Despite the naysayers who said this countywide approach wouldn’t work, it did and has continued to work for 30 years.
- SDB employs a staff of 5 economic development professionals with the technical skills and experience needed to help strengthen the local economy. These professionals work to attract companies and to assist existing businesses to invest new capital and to create and retain jobs in Stark County. For the past three decades, SDB has built a strong reputation at the local, regional, state and national levels for its role in helping to support economic development in Stark County and in Northeast Ohio.
- SDB is much different from the local chambers. SBD’s core competencies include business attraction, business financing, real estate development, zoning and regulatory compliance, funding for environmental remediation, private equity financing, and the administration of the Stark County Port Authority. The chambers' core competencies include membership services and benefit programs, networking, safety and education, business events and festivals.
- By collaborating with the local chambers we use the “hunter and skinner” model based on the two skill sets required. The chamber acts as the hunter and visits with businesses to determine their needs and potential expansion opportunities. When a possible business expansion is identified, typically, SDB is brought in, like a skinner, to help coordinate a team of experts to assist the chamber and local government, as needed, to support a company with its project. This approach has been successfully used, for more than 25 years.
- Over the past 30 years, SDB has assisted more than 1,400 businesses that have retained or created more than 51,000 jobs as well as more than $2.5 billion in new capital investment in Stark County. This record of accomplishment clearly substantiates the vision of the business and community leaders who created the SDB.