General Electic's bomb-
shell announcement that it will close its Ravenna light plant by early 2014 gives the city some time, but not much, to outline some steps that proactively address the loss.
The city needs more information. It needs to know what GE intends to with the building and land, whether it is to be sold or leased or even, perhaps, donated to the city to use in some fashion. Once that is known, the city should decide what it can do to help market the property making itself available to work with GE or whoever is designated to take charge of its disposal and re-use.
Ravenna has some good supportive players available. The Port Authority is available. The Portage Business Development Council works closely with the Port Authority. JobsOhio, if alerted, can assist. The city needs to be aware of state support that might be obtainable.
The GE light plant on North Chestnut Street at S.R. 14 is a good industrial building, well located and with plenty available parking. It is important to get the word out about it and Ravenna needs to tell its story that it has a good workforce and that the community is business friendly.
Although fracking is controversial, it has emerged as one of the positive economic developers for eastern Ohio and has some very good spinoffs. Kent, for instance, was able to market the abandoned Fontaine plant on Fairchild Avenue to Mac Trailer of Alliance, which was seeking more capacity. The facility, which manufactures trailers that can safely haul drilling wastes, is set to employ more than 200. Could there be a similar user out there somewhere that might want the GE light plant for adaptive re-use?
There are new manufacturers that have come to Ravenna that are growing, too. Would the light plant facility be suitable for any of them?
Losing any manufacturer is difficult, but these things happen. The communities that recover quickly are those that are proactive about economic development. Some of the search for new business and industry is similar to trolling. One does not know exactly what is available to catch, but until the troller throws in his line, nothing can be caught.
Ravenna needs to formulate a plan to recover from losing what for several decades now has been a very fine employer.