History of Stark Development Board

A private, non-profit corporation, SDB was created by business and community leaders in May of 1985 to promote economic development activities in Stark County. As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and that was the case with SDB’s formation.

The early 1980s was marked by an extraordinary set of economic trends including high interest rates and high unemployment; U.S. automakers were losing market share to the Japanese. Stark County’s economy was driven by steel manufacturing and auto industry suppliers, which meant trouble for the region in competing for jobs. Something had to be done, which led to the birth of SDB.

Taking its cue from other successful regions, SDB took the approach of cooperating with the 10 local chambers of commerce so the county could compete with the rest of the world rather than compete against itself. It hired a professional economic development staff with the goal of rebuilding the local economy with more jobs. More jobs means more tax revenue to support education and infrastructure with the goal of attracting and retaining work forces.

As opposed to a government entity, SDB was set up as a private, non-profit group funded by local companies that would take a regional approach to serve all cities and townships in the county. Despite the naysayers who said it wouldn’t work, it did work, and it has continued to work for 30 years. For the past three decades, SDB has built a reputation at the local, regional, state and national levels as the No. 1 advocate of Stark County businesses.

As it enters its fourth decade, several of SDB’s areas of specialization include economic development, business financing programs, site selection, incentive programs and helping administer the Stark County Port Authority, which creates and preserves jobs through a wide variety of financing, real estate and foreign trade zone programs.

SDB’s mission today is as strong as it was in the beginning: To retain, expand and attract business interests in the area.