The North Canton Chamber of Commerce brought together three area media experts for a panel discussion of local business news and trends.

The North Canton Chamber of Commerce brought together three area media experts for a panel discussion of local business news and trends. M.L. Schultze, news director at WKSU, Tim Rudell, reporter at WKSU and Dave Manley, news content manager with The Repository talked about business happenings around the county.

Schultze worked at The Repository for 25 years and was managing editor for almost 10 years before going to WKSU. Rudell began his radio career in his hometown of Canton before going to NBC television affiliates such as Youngstown, Grand Rapids, Mich. and other areas around the U.S.

Dave Manley has been a business editor and presentation editor with GateHouse Ohio Media for The Repository and is a contributor to the New Philadelphia Times-Reporter.

The three panelists joined members of the North Canton Chamber of Commerce for their Quarterly Conversation Luncheon on May 14 at the Barrette Center at Walsh University. Topics of discussion focused on several areas such as the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village, oil and gas exploration in the area, today's business climate and what's needed for economic growth in the area.

All three agreed that the area has several assets for economic growth including the many colleges and universities around the county, the influx of oil and gas monies, the hospital systems and the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the potential to expand that into the Hall of Fame Village.

“We have to recognize the position Stark County is in to grow our economy, it's a positive forward-looking position,” Rudell said. “Ohio and parts of our area got lucky about five years ago with advancement of Utica Shale. The state of Ohio had $15 to $20 billion go into that economic pool. That was all new money and it will continue for a while into the future.”

Another topic of interest was the idea of building a broadband infrastructure. Manley said that the project could improve Internet speeds.

“The county-wide initiative to build a broadband infrastructure offers the possibility of increasing the Internet speeds 300 to 400 times,” Manley said. “The project is just one of the ways the area is looking towards the future and looking for ways to keep young people in the area.”

Rudell said that Ohio ranks 43 out of 50 in retaining young people. At the same time, Ohio ranks second for the number and quality of university systems in the state.

“One of the many ways to keep young people in the state is to look at ways of diversifying our region,” Schultze said. “We have to find ways to attract new thoughts and new ideas to our area.”

All of the panelists said that businesses and individuals are waiting to see how the proposed Hall of Fame Village will affect the county. All panelists said it's important for the community to be and stay involved in the progress of building the Hall of Fame Village.

There was some discussion about the number of new hotels in the area and the importance of having such resources for business travelers, convention and conference opportunities, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the oil and gas industry.

One of the questions from the audience was about local versus outside perceptions of the area and ways to change the perception of those outside of the area. Schultze said it's important to find ways to tell the story better.

“I wouldn't try to attract or try to pitch outside media for attention,” Schultze said. “Instead, I would suggest looking at alternative ways to tell our story. We first have to make sure we have a story to tell.”

Manly suggested that changing the perception has to start in the communities. It also involves recognizing our weaknesses and figuring out how to address those weaknesses.

“The message has to be homegrown. People from the community have to talk positive about the community,” Manley said. “I'm proud of where I live and I want people to know about how great the area is. We also have to look at using social media to get the stories out.”