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Q&A: Chamber President Shares Thoughts on Intelligent Community Forum

Doug Lane, president of the North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce, attended last week's Inaugural ICF Global Symposium at Walsh University, and we checked in to see what he took away from that experience

Several of the city's top stakeholders got together at Walsh University this past week to learn more about the Intelligent Community Forum and how North Canton can better itself through the ICF.

We checked in with Doug Lane, president of the North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce, about his participation in last week's Inaugural ICF Global Symposium.

Below he shares his take-aways from the event and how the chamber can help the city head in the right direction with the ICF, a nonprofit think tank that focuses in job creation and economic development in the broadband economy.

North Canton Patch: How does the North Canton Area Chamber of Commerce fit into the ICF and North Canton's vision to become an Intelligent Community?

Doug Lane: The Chamber can serve as an active partner with Walsh and the ICF by attracting entrepreneurs and businesses sharing the ICF’s goals and vision. We can also work to educate our current and future members about the ICF and encourage their use of smart technology.  

North Canton Patch: You recently attended the ICF symposium at Walsh University. What was one highlight or take-away that you can use to improve the Chamber or the city?

Lane: Dr. Jacknis’ reiteration of the importance of thinking smaller. By that I mean working to attract and expand businesses in the 10-50 employee range through quality of life assets to create a broad-based economy, rather than pursuing huge employers with incentives and getting into bidding wars with other municipalities and states. Will we welcome large employers? With open arms! But most economic growth in the U.S. comes from the retention and expansion of existing business and entrepreneurial enterprises and we can’t lose sight of that fact.   

North Canton Patch: The city recently applied to be one of the ICF's Smart21 Intelligent Communities. What do you think puts the city above others in terms of being a "smart community?"

Lane: The vision of Walsh University and their ICF facility, the tech efforts of our school system, our closeness to Kent State Stark and Stark State and our creative use of technology in government operations and private enterprise. As we continue down the ICF path and learn more and more from other communities in the program our assets list will grow.   

North Canton Patch: Where do you think the city can improve?

Lane: As noted above, our employers and organizations need to be further educated on the goals and vision of the ICF and determine how those ideas can be implemented in their operations. We need to encourage entrepreneurs to locate here and provide existing businesses the support and appreciation that leads to expansion. We also need to keep the ICF in mind as we as a community implement parts of the Master Plan.   

North Canton Patch: After attending the symposium, what do you see as your next steps or the city's next steps in continuing on with the ICF?

Lane: The Chamber and our sister organization, the North Canton Community Growth Association, have several initiatives planned for 2013 that will complement the ICF’s goals and vision. We have also developed a working relationship with Stratford, Ontario, and will focus on their best practices and determine how they could be used in North Canton. Chair Bill Strohmenger and I attended the ICF conference in June and will do so again in 2013.

Editor's note: Lane recently attended toured Stratford, Ontario, which, like North Canton, is also home to an ICF Institute.

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