The Lorain County Chamber of Commerce continues to be at the forefront of designing innovative ways to strengthen regional economic development. In January, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Gallo announced the creation of a new nonprofit organization, the Lorain County Community Development Corporation. The 501c3 public-private partnership — organized under the umbrella of the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce — will facilitate and build on the county’s established foundation of growth and collaboration. It’s designed to cement the message that Lorain County is a prime location for corporations, businesses and entrepreneurs to open, expand or relocate.

“These 501c3s are common in the economic development world,” Gallo says. “The Lorain County Community Development Corporation will be the liaison between Team NEO [a private, nonprofit, economic development organization dedicated to accelerating business growth and job creation throughout Northeast Ohio’s 18 counties] and Lorain County and JobsOhio [a private economic development corporation that spearheads high-growth business investments and job creation]. It won’t supersede the county commissioners or the economic development in municipalities. Instead, we’ll be there as a partner, working with them to help existing local businesses expand and get the word out to companies outside the county about what we can offer if they decide to locate here.”

Initiatives include encouraging the continuation of traded sector business growth, focusing on short-term goals that demonstrate positive outcomes, engaging with local and regional organizations to showcase the county’s strengths, proactively communicating success stories and responding to feedback.

The corporation’s launch was a year in the making. More than 70 Lorain County civic and economic development leaders — ranging from elected officials to heads of private-sector firms and philanthropic organizations — were invited to offer input.

School superintendents, Gallo adds, were also asked to be avid participants.

“To have a strong workforce, we need to engage those students who are coming up through the ranks and are in the process of making a decision about whether or not to stay here,” he says. “We need to make sure that if they leave the area to go to college, there’s a reason for them to return here because there are opportunities to earn a good living.”

“We talked with everyone who has a stake in this endeavor,” Gallo adds.

To date, mayors in the cities of Avon, Avon Lake, Elyria, Lorain, North Ridgeville and Oberlin, along with the village of Grafton, have offered financial support to the project. Although no elected officials will be on the board, an advisory council will keep them apprised of progress.

“At the end of the day, participants will realize that if a new business moves into an adjoining Lorain County town, it will also benefit their city and vice versa,” Gallo says.

“It’s going to be a win-win situation for everyone.”