As Ravenna faces the possible loss of General Electric, a major employer on the north end of the city, the city is taking steps to make that end of town a bit more marketable.
Ravenna City Council is moving forward with a "special improvement district" at the city's industrial park, north of S.R. 14 and west of S.R. 44, where a second entrance is being considered.
Economic Development Director Kerry Macomber recently told Ravenna City Council that ODOT's jobs and commerce division is still interested in funding about a third of the $1 million project, but the city is looking for ways to generate the other two-thirds. The solution the city is considering is a "special improvement district," which would allow property owners to be assessed for the remaining costs. The district is spelled out in the Ohio Revised Code as a way to fund projects such as this.
Macomber said she has talked to several property owners, who are open to the concept.
"It would be a big improvement for the residents," she said. "Along with the expansion of the industrial park comes increased traffic, and the people on Enterprise Parkway are stuck there."
On Thursday, city officials learned that General Electric is considering the closure of its lamp plant at the corner of North Chestnut Street and S.R. 14. The final decision will be made after a 60 day "idea generating" period, during which the plant's 164 workers will be asked to come up with ideas to help the plant save money. The move would not affect the company's distribution center on S.R. 14 north of the plant, where about 40 people work.
City Engineer Bob Finney pointed out that the additional driveway would make the industrial park more marketable by giving some parcels access to a road.
In addition to Sheetz, which plans to build this year, Paris Companies, a commercial laundry facility, plans to expand its building and is expected to bring plans to the city soon. Paris is negotiating with the Ravenna School District for a tax abatement.
And Lifeforce Management, Springseal and Thermocore also are planning to consolidate into one building in the industrial park. The companies are owned by husband and wife Chris and Mark Knapp, who are Ravenna residents.
Macomber said it's not just the industrial park that is interested in improving the corridor. A property owner on the south side of S.R. 14 is interested in putting a national chain restaurant on the property.
Councilman Fred Berry asked if some sort of four-way intersection could tie that project with the industrial park, but Macomber suggested that a change that big could delay the expansion of the driveway.
City officials have previously expressed hope that the project could get started as early as next spring.
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