COLUMBIANA - A new web-based interactive information system shows where water and sewer lines are located, zoning maps, traffic counts and most other information commercial property owners would want to find in one area, with just a few simple clicks of a mouse.
The SEEDBASE program developed by the Sustainable Opportunity Development (SOD) Center in Salem and just recently completed there is now being offered to Columbiana.
Lawrence Kosiba, who is transitioning out of his role as executive director for the SOD center by the end of this year, recently pitched the SEEDBASE Economic Development Geographic Information System (GIS) to City Council.
The web-based interactive system was developed as a tool to help promote economic development and has only been implemented in Salem so far. Salem's informational map can be found online at www.seedbase.concepts2companies.org.
The SOD Center is a 501(c)3 organization focused on instituting programs to enhance business development. While the GIS system is beneficial for residents for informational purposes, it is geared toward commercial industry.
"We are not a real estate industry. We deal strictly in commercial properties. We are not here to deal with residential properties. This is designed for site developers, real estate developers, commercial developers, to gain access to information quickly and easily," Kosiba said of the GIS system.
Information available on the interactive database is city-owned data, and what is shared from the city's local Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Department of Transportation, and other public entities.
"What we do is link over to that site. We don't want to get into the part of where we or you are responsible for updating business information," he said.
However, any city-owned data, like sewer and water line locations and zoning information, would be the responsibility of the city to maintain, he explained.
The Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce is already on board with the project, and Kosiba actually pitched it to them before approaching council.
"We started out because we got questions all the time with various zoning areas," he said of Salem.
As more questions poured in about where certain things were located the SOD decided to take some money and develop the tool to help attract heavy manufacturing to Salem to replace the industry that left, he added.
"I kept getting the same questions over and over about attracting companies, expanding companies The Ohio Redevelopment Office has been very pleased with what we have done," he said, adding the redevelopment office even kicked in some money for the Salem project.
Steven Rouse, also of the SOD Center, developed the site, including its design and layout, and he also visited council.
The cost to the city for its implementation would be $3,500 since the SOD Center is providing its own $4,000 in the form of a loan it received through the Home Savings Charitable Foundation. Once implemented the city would also pay a $100 a month maintenance fee after the first year for as long as it uses the site.
The total project for Salem was $7,500, but that was offset by the money provided through the state office. It took about nine months to develop the program from scratch and it will take about six months for its implementation in Columbiana, Kosiba said.
In Salem, the system helped potential commercial property owners decide whether a specific site was good for their needs before starting any of the necessary work.
"We used this information for two projects. One was up near Home Depot. One was looking at putting in a Daycare Center. We found out we didn't have a sewer system in there (and) we found out it was going to be too costly for them to get it in there," he said.
The other project, located on state Route 14 on the west side of the community involved about eight acres of industrial property that also did not have any sewer capability.
The SOD Center pursued an Appalachian Regional Commission Grant to cover that cost, but it was halted due to the Norfolk Southern Railroad not wanting them to go beneath the railroad for that installation, he explained.
Columbiana Council members agreed the site would be beneficial and no action was needed on their part, City Manager Lance Willard said.