November 28, 2014


Elyria’s new economic development specialist to focus on new businesses


James Graham is the city’s newest economic development specialist.

ELYRIA — The city’s search for a new economic development specialist went all the way to the Garden State.

The city’s new hire — James Graham who is pegged with the responsibility of boosting city tax revenue and drumming up new businesses — comes from New Jersey, where he most recently served as president of the Warren County Regional Chamber of Commerce. He also has done similar work in Reno, Nev., and San Bernardino, Calif.

Mayor Holly Brinda introduced Graham during Monday’s City Council meeting. His official start date is Oct. 1. His first year salary will be $69,000.

“He has already moved to Elyria, has already volunteered to attend some management meetings and I have been able to introduce him to others in the county that deal with economic development,” Brinda said. “I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have someone standing in my office saying they want to start working on a plan.”

It’s been years since the city had an employee solely dedicated to economic development. Brinda, who took office in January 2012, has been doing the lion’s share of the work of luring jobs to the city.

Graham said Monday he is happy to return to his chosen field of economic development.

[pullquote]“I consider it a privilege to be here,” he said. [/pullquote]

“I like to stay busy and I understand there is a lot to do here, but I believe that by working with the community and the existing businesses here we will create new businesses, increase investments, create new jobs and increase the tax base,” he said.

Brinda said Graham’s first duties will include a downtown development corporation to attract longterm businesses and pop-up businesses and developing a Midway Mall Merchant’s Association. The city also has applied for $94,000 through the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency to conduct a market analysis that Graham will use to develop a development plan for the city.

The city’s lack of a dedicated Economic Development Department was mentioned in the June performance audit conducted by state Auditor Dave Yost.

Where Elyria spends nothing specifically on economic development, peer cities spent, on average, $9 per resident, the audit said.

The audit recommended the city merge the Building and Community Development departments into one comprehensive Economic Development Department focused on community revitalization, improvement and public safety. The consolidation would result in the need for fewer employees.

Brinda said reorganizing both departments allowed for Graham’s hire with no additional salary cost to the city. His salary will come from the Community Development Department budget, which lost two employees this year. The salaries for both were included in the budget for the full year of 2013, and their absence frees up money.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or

  • Lord Anoobis

    Welcome to Elyria, Mr. Graham. Here’s hoping that you can make a difference and help the city get back on its feet. Many jobs have been lost in the town and the results are evident. I live in the city and want it to prosper.

  • stop ur whining

    You want to fix Elyria? It’s actually very simple, but will be tremendously unpopular. Before i begin, i recently moved from Elyria to Cleveland after a life time in the city, so i know how bad it has gotten.

    1) You immediately raise taxes so the poor criminal element has no choice but to leave bc they cant afford to live there.

    2) You take your extra tax revenue and dump it into extra police to take out the rest of the trash.
    3) You then sink every last dollar the city has left into the schools. Pay for great teachers, and the best new educational equipment available.

    Once the garbage is gone, and you have great schools you can begin to attract young families starting out. They will have access to affordable housing and will feel safe sending their children to school.

    If you get an influx of young families starting out, have low crime, and great schools your population grows. When your population grows more businesses move in. Elyria is thinking in reverse.

    Bay, Westlake, Rocky River, Lakewood…what do they all have in common? higher taxes. But they also have low crime, great schools, amazing parks. The scum that pollutes Elyria could never afford to live there, hence they stay in Elyria.

    I hope Elyria turns it around, but i doubt it will. Lorain has a better shot with all the lake front property. Elyria has done nothing but shoot itself in the foot. Build a industrial parkway in the middle of no where with no chance of filling it. Higher extra cops to patrol downtown, sounds great except they patrol between 9-5. Yea, tons of crime during business hours. The police get great new SUVs to help intimidate criminals only to have those patrols be almost retired over the hill guys that all work 9-5 and live on the north side. STUPID…park them in the villa where they can do some good.

    Good luck Elyria, you will need it.

    • Alan Pugh

      You can’t attract “young families just starting out” by raising taxes enough that people without money “cant afford to live there.” Young families don’t have a lot of disposable income.

      Elyria needs a local government focused on creating and fostering a “shop local” mentality that helps keep funds in the city. That doesn’t just require new businesses to fill the gaps that lead shoppers out of town, but also requires the actual consumers to do the right thing by their community and keep their dollars here. It requires cooperation, but all we get is “Bay, Westlake, Rocky River blah blah blah riff raff scum poor people not my fault!”

      Once all the residents who point the finger at everyone but themselves finally get out to their overpriced “greener pastures,” the sooner we can get back to a sense of community here.

      • stop ur whining

        Alan, You raise the taxes so the scum has to leave. Not too mention that if the young family cant afford the taxes they aren’t the young families you want living in your city to begin with. There is way to much under educated non producing crap in the city. I do not purpose raising taxes thru the roof, but currently the taxes in Elyria are 1/4 of cuyahoga. raise it to half and your garbage leaves

        • Alan Pugh

          Are you honestly of the opinion that if people “can’t afford the taxes” that they have nothing to contribute to the community?

          You’re welcome to your views, but I’d challenge that gentrification, which is basically exactly what you propose, is a big factor in pushing people of low income into run-down neighborhoods where they’ll never have a shot at making it. Integration and social justice lifts people up; isolation destroys them.

          • stop ur whining

            Alan, gentrification is exactly what i am talking about. You hit the nail on the head. I understand your argument, but at the same time look at what is happening. You talk about the poor not being able to make it. What are they doing now? Have you driven down middle ave past 10 o’clock? Do you read the blotter? Social justice is a joke. If you want to better yourself you have to have the will to do so regardless of where you live, color of your skin, and educational background. Every town will have crime, every town will have poor. Elyria just happens to have too much of both. Raising the taxes would eliminate those that are a burden on the economy. The population you lose to raising taxes is the exact type of person you do not want in your city. The person you cross the street to avoid. Integration is fine, as long as they are decent people that produce. Again i understand your logic but i think you are making this about race. It isn’t. I am done with races. I care about if you produce. If you contribute to the economy instead of being a strain. If elyria wants to recover, they need to take out the trash. You can be anything you want in this country, but you need to hike up your pants and put forth effort. The people i am talking about forcing out is the bottom of the barrel that has never, and will never produce regardless of integration and social justice that you speak of. We live in a hyper sensitive world where it is wrong to think that people need to be held accountable for being dead beats. We get up and go to work. We pay our bills. We save for the future. The bottom of the barrel breeds crime and generations of welfare. These are the parasites that need to be kicked out. Yes, parasites. the definition says it all: an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host’s expense. The trash in Elyria feeds off the few decent people that are left.

    • Bill

      You’re going on the assumption that the poor criminal element actually pays taxes. Pretty funny.

      • stop ur whining

        so true, hahaha. but the criminal element that remains will be taken care of by the extra police.

        • Mark B

          That will never happen because there is Toooooo much goverment Housing in Elyria . Drug dealers dont charge tax. There is no tax on alcohol when you buy it with your EBT card. You could put 100 officers on duty every shift and all they would do is run traffic enforcement and go after the working person because they are the ones with money to pay the fines .

          • stop ur whining

            yea, that is probably a sad truth. Elyria used to be a great place. too bad the scum has ruined it