Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Youngstown Goes International

Eric Planey believes in Youngstown. Like many young professionals who've left the area and returned -- some call them boomerangs -- he's studied and worked in other cities and around the world, and he's come back to Youngstown with the specific goal of helping revitalize this community. As Vice President for International Business Attraction at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber, he combines that positive attitude with knowledge of international business and a fair amount of patience as he works to attract international companies to set up shop in the Mahoning Valley and help local companies find global opportunities.

It's Eric's job to focus on the positive, but I appreciate that he was also honest in talking about the gap between potential and accomplishments. He's been on the job just over a year, and economic development is always a slow process. We want fast, concrete, dramatic results, but I think most people understand that creating new jobs involves exploring multiple possibilities, building relationships, and navigating financial and legal mazes. None of that happens quickly. But instead of simply touting how great things are, Eric acknowledges the limited concrete results of his efforts so far. He clearly doesn't feel discouraged; he's just realistic. In a community that has sometimes tended to be either overly negative about the possibility of local growth or idealistic about the latest turn-around, that moderation is refreshing.

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