Mentor – Mentor will officially become part of the Lake County Port and Economic Development Authority following the dissolution of its own 14-year-old port authority in early May.
The dissolution ordinance was approved at Mentor City Council's April 4 meeting, but not on emergency, meaning it goes into effect in 30 days.
The Greater Mentor Port Authority was established in 2003 to promote trade, create and retain jobs in the city, but has never been fully funded.
Joining the county port authority will create “a single effort” to enhance economic development in Mentor, something the city has been considering for the last few years, City Manager Ken Filipiak said.
The joint effort was given an extra push last year after county port authority Executive Director Mark Rantala discussed the benefits of the idea with council members during a fall work session. It was more recently discussed during a 90-minute March 21 council work session.
While the city will retain its Economic and Community Development Department, the county Port Authority and its staff would will with it to promote economic development, especially the retention of existing firms and the creation of new ones.
“With respect to economic development, we find ourselves working very closely with this agency now on projects that are important to this community,” Filipiak said during the council meeting.
In addition, many of the economic development tools the county agency uses, including being the agency responsible for overseeing the operation of Lost Nation Airport, will benefit Mentor. The city does not have the same authority or connections with state or regional economic development agencies, he added.
“All of the things they (the county port authority) are engaged in, from an economic development standpoint, we feel work as a nice supplement to our own activities …,” the city manager said.
The operation and control of the airport is especially important to Mentor because a large portion of it lays within the city west of Route 306. The decision join to county agency will increase the city's representation on the county port authority's board of directors from two to three people, creating better representation for the city and its residents, especially on issues dealing with the airport, Filipiak said.
No additional legislative action needs to be taken by city council for formerly join the county agency, city Law Director Richard Hennig said.
The dissolution of Mentor's port authority automatically allows the city to become part of the county port authority based on a Lake County Prosecutor's Office review of a county commissioner's resolution that created the agency 10 years ago.
“They worded it with an eye to the future so that should any community port authority cease to exist, it could be included in the county port authority with the approval of the (county commissioners),” Hennig explained.
The commissioners informally agreed to absorb Mentor into the Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority April 6 when they voted to expand the agency's board of directors from seven to nine members.
However, none of port authority's existing seven members are considered to be representatives of a specific community. Instead, they are regarded as members at-large who represent the entire county, county port authority Executive Director Mark Rantala said.
John Konrad, the port authority's secretary/treasurer, and new John Uhran currently live in Mentor. They are appointed by the county commissioners, as are the other port authority members.
Under the informal agreement with the city, Mentor City Council will be able to make a recommendation to the commissioners about who should to replace Konrad and Uhran when they resign, as well as recommend the appointment of one of the two new board members, Rantala said.