Fiscal Resiliency in Lakewood is Inclusive, Diverse, and Forward Looking

Recently, some of the nation’s top economists, referencing a downtrend from bonds, currency, commodities and a projected growth of national debt, speculated that a recession may be on the horizon. Like most cities, most revenue comes to Lakewood from local sources. 

The largest source of revenue, according to our city budget, comes from municipal income tax, which are taxes levied on all residents and part-year residents aged 18 or older, residents and non-residents who conduct business, or work, in Lakewood, residents and non-residents who own property, and non-residents who work in Lakewood but whose employer did not withhold income tax (as per the city’s website). 

When looking to the future of Lakewood it is not only important that we are fiscally responsible, but fiscally resilient. We can build resiliency by developing a comprehensive economic development plan now to safeguard our local economy from a potential recession. 

Diversification of our city’s revenues (i.e. through qualifying for Federal funding for community programs and infrastructure improvements and for incorporating green, affordable technology in our development projects) will be a key aspect to building a resilient local economy. Establishing an economic development plan that includes working with state legislators to bring back dollars to Lakewood to fund critical community services, establishing a process for regular communication and monitoring of our business community’s needs, expanding the percentage of citizens, particularly smart, diverse, young adults prepared to start new businesses, and putting the infrastructure in place to be grant ready and grant compliant will help to bolster our economy for years to come.

After speaking with many business owners in Ward 1 and around Lakewood - including artists, printers, yoga teachers, bakers, clothiers, child care providers, salon owners and restauranteurs, it is increasingly clear that we must expand the city’s contract and relationship with LakewoodAlive, who helps to promote our city’s culture and vibrancy. 

Working with LakewoodAlive and our local businesses to establish a cohesive economic development plan that is reflective of current businesses’ needs, including working on ways to improve the survival rate of local business start-ups, should be the first step in this process. 

We must also partner with Lakewood’s talented and vast art community which would be instrumental to bolstering our economic vitality by engaging in public arts projects that highlight the uniqueness, and diversity of our residents and business districts, making Lakewood a cultural destination for people both inside and outside of the city. Strong arts communities add economic strength to cities and we certainly have an abundance of talent and drive in Lakewood. 

Lakewood is also an increasingly diverse city, and it is important to our future economic development to lean into that diversity by committing to a plan to encourage and provide opportunities for new minority and female owned and operated businesses. 

I am prepared to introduce an ordinance on city council to create a Business Diversity Office that will be tasked with working locally, as well as regionally with business incubators to identify opportunities for entrepreneurship for minority and female business owners in Lakewood, actively seeking grants to help bolster Lakewood businesses across the board, and working to offer culturally inclusive professional development training and connection to business resources to strengthen our current, new, and emerging businesses.  

We must be proactive in our commitment to an economic development path that takes our growing diversity, residents, talent, businesses and future fiscal health into account and ensures a future that is bright for everyone. 

Link to Patch Article: https://patch.com/ohio/lakewood-oh/fiscal-resiliency-lakewood-inclusive-forward-looking

Laura Rodriguez-Carbone