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05-30-03: Celina officials ponder economic development future
The Daily Standard

    What is economic growth? What is the future of Celina?
    Those are some of the questions city officials attempted to answer during a group forum on economic development held Thursday night.
    The group, including Celina City Council members, city administration and Tom Knapke of Wright State University-Lake Campus, brain-stormed their ideas on paper about what economic growth means to them and how it can be accomplished.
    Communication and organization were the dual themes pressed by moderator Knapke in the meeting of the minds in the Richardson-Bretz Memorial Building.
    Knapke handed out slips of paper and asked city leaders "what is your vision for economic growth in Celina."
    Answers included bringing a interstate highway through the county, increasing tourism, lakefront development, attracting high paying jobs in the medical field or agriculture-technology, nurturing existing industries by finding out how they can be assisted and reaching out to global companies.
    "There's no single answer," Safety Service Director Mike Sovinski said.
    "I'm trying to get you to look at where you're all coming from so we can come to conclusions," Knapke said.
    In the beginning, Councilman Denny Smith said the purpose of the forum is to bring everybody's ideas to the table to examine the effectiveness of economic development.
    "It was asked if the glass is half empty or half full, and I truly believe the glass is half full," Smith said.
    Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Sharon LaRue said at some point Celina officials need to go to existing businesses and ask "what kind of business would enhance, not compete with, your business," and gave examples of a water park or miniature golf near the new West Bank Road development.
    Many in the group came to the realization that economic growth is a regional thing and Celina needs to team up with outside entities, such as Mercer County and other counties, existing businesses and economic development groups to decide which direction to go.
    "I don't think we can afford to be afraid of reaching out," Smith said, adding that new businesses are better off coming near Celina than in a place like Alabama.
    Knapke said the group will meet again and categorize the ideas presented Thursday and decide what other entities Celina needs to cooperate with to get things done.


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