NSME May 2021 Meeting
Posted: May 11, 2021

Ray Hexamer, CEO and President of Stark Economic Development Board, spoke about his organization and Strengthening Stark's doing to keep and engage talent in Stark County. Strengthening Stark has been around for 38 years and is all about talent development. 

Here's the major problem the county is facing: 

In 2000 the population in Stark County was 378,000 

In 2040 it is projected to be 355,000, a 6% decline.

In the wake of new business opportunities, Ray said this is a problem. But, he said, "Progress begins when you acknowledge and face your challenges."


What SEDB did in 2017

They interviewed 225 community members to determine their goals. Many wanted to start and grow a business or develop their own talent to pursue a good-paying career. So, they started gathering data, and from the data came great insights. 

The results were and back and forth process between business growth, talent development in quality workplaces. 

From 2018-Present SEBD Accomplishments

  • Have 23 Business Partners
  • Help existing businesses and attract new companies that can grow in the Stark County economy.
  • They have focused on key industries and
  • Focused on providing a living wage
  • They have increased the wealth of Stark County by retaining and growing existing businesses

Key 2020 Facts

  • There are 15,526 Stark County Businesses Operating Today
  • .05% are Enterprise Establishments, 3.3% are Mid-Sized, leaving the rest as Small Businesses or Entrepreneurs
  • There were 987 New Jobs Created with new payroll of $45 Million
  • For every dollar, SEBC spent, $18.21 was returned into the county
  • Smart Stark was formed - which is all about connecting Stark County HS students with higher education opportunities in the county.
  • Stark GIS was created, which identifies the economic data throughout the county, including the areas of greatest poverty. 

 COVID-19 Response

  • In the six weeks following the Ohio shut down in March of 2020, county churches raised over $541,000 to help their members. 
  • SEBD gave out 148 grants where the average grant was $3,650. 

Parting Thoughts

Ray was born and raised in Stark County, and even though his career was not in governmental or non-profit work, he is proud of what he, his team, and the community partners have accomplished in three short years. He says every problem has simple solutions that require awareness, listening, and cooperation. 

About The Author

De-de Mulligan is President of Mulligan Management Group and has been a member of NSME Akron/Canton since 2017. She was an Accent on Excellence Award winner in 2017. Her agency is based in Stow, Ohio. 


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