Seven Hills Economic Development
Over the last few months, I have shared with you updates on how Seven Hills has prepared to move forward after the COVID dominated year of 2020. Specifics were shared about our finances, streets, sewers, grant activity, the purchase of land for a future nature preserve, and how we are developing a master plan to upgrade all our parks. As promised, this article will focus on economic development, but first I want to share with you the big picture. The chart below illustrates the growth we have secured in the city's vital General Fund (GF) balances over the last few years. [insert graph]
We have accomplished this stellar growth through sound fiscal management, maintaining our GF expenses while increasing GF revenue. For instance, with our Q1 2021 financials, GF revenue is up 14% and our GF expenses are flat compared to Q1 2020. Having an adequate general fund balance is critical to a municipality’s financial health. It provides liquidity in the event of an emergency (pandemic shutdown etc.). It allows us to take on additional capital projects such as sewer upgrades (Last year we transferred $902,000 from this balance into our capital improvement fund).It allows us to maintain service levels in the event of an economic slowdown. This balance is basically an insurance policy for every city operation.
One of the major factors in achieving these results has been our economic development efforts. Last year we welcomed Konica Minolta and Vitalia Rockside to our city. So far in 2021, we announced the much-anticipated grand opening date (May 13th) of the first Meijer in Cuyahoga County, bringing 350 new jobs to Seven Hills.
We also celebrated the ground-breaking of the Regional Headquarters of Erie Bank. This will be the first new office building being built on the Rockside Corridor in over a decade. Construction is already underway. [insert Erie pic]
These new developments will add amenities to our community. But most importantly, they will add to our municipal income tax revenues through job creation, all without increasing taxes. (City of Seven Hills has not had tax increase since 2016, and none are currently planned).
In addition to the income tax generated, we were successful in creating economic development zones related to Vitalia Rockside and Meijer that together will generate $6.8 million in new property taxes, over the next 15 years, that are 100% dedicated to infrastructure projects only. Absent the economic development zones, most of these property taxes would have left Seven Hills and gone to other agencies instead, like the Port Authority, Library system and the Metroparks.
Many cities of our size (approximately 12,000 residents) have a Director of Economic Development and associated staff members. Seven Hills does not have such a position filled, nor do we staff several other executive roles, such as a grant writer and HR director, etc. etc. Therefore, these important functions must be filled by the Mayor. With that said, I write this month’s article with a certain amount of pride in knowing that these accomplishments will help generate some of the funds required to provide the services and infrastructure improvements our residents will need for decades to come! Our next update should be about our park plans. Stay tuned my friends. We are just getting started!
Mayor, City of Seven Hills. Ohio