Mayor Al Bollas and the New Franklin City Council have a vision to increase the city's tax base.

Mayor Al Bollas and the New Franklin City Council have a vision to increase the city's tax base, grow businesses along the Manchester Road corridor and attract senior citizen housing options for the elderly.

Officials took a step toward those goals Jan. 6 by hiring the Insite Advisory Group of Fairlawn to serve as a planning consultant for New Franklin for 2016. By a 6-0 vote, Council approved a resolution allowing Bollas to enter into an agreement which would allow Insite to oversee the planning and activities for economic development.

The cost should not exceed $25,000.

“We do not have an economic development department at the city,” Bollas said, noting he feels it’s imperative that the city move forward with plans to seek water and sewer services in an effort attract more businesses. This is one of several goals Bollas has brought to council in the past year.

New Franklin chose Insite because of its history with the city, including offering consulting services in 2014. A result of that agreement led to obtaining $375,000 in funding for the Manchester Road widening project. Insite also helped the city and local business Hi-Way Distributing navigate an expansion.

Insite has also established priorities for the Portage Lakes entertainment district, identified the Manchester Road business corridor and key parcels for redevelopment. Insite also created a Community Reinvestment Area incentive district and application process.

Jennifer Syx, president of Insite Advisory Group, addressed council and stressed that Insite specializes in assisting cities who do not have economic development departments.

“We want to promote a public-private partnership to increase the income tax base,” Syx said.

She asked Ward 1 Council Member Jim Cotts, chairman of the Community Development committee, to consider setting meetings with businesses in New Franklin to start the discussions for growth plans and hear concerns.

“We need to bring new investment into the city and create jobs,” Syx added.

The top three initiatives for 2016, according to Syx, would be continued development of the Manchester Road business corridor, creation of the Manchester Historic District at Manchester and Nimisila roads and the establishment of a business retention and expansion program.

“We need senior housing because retirees want to stay in New Franklin, but can't afford to stay in their homes,” Bollas said. “As for business growth, we would like to see more professional offices and retail.”

Bollas also noted that New Franklin should encourage “silicon or IT manufacturing” to consider establishing businesses in the city, rather than making efforts to lure big manufacturing.

Syx said the city’s water and sewer need to be upgraded if New Franklin is going to begin luring businesses. She hopes to foster a partnership with Barberton to address this issue. Insite already is collaborating with the Summit County Department of Environmental Services on a future sanitary sewer project.