Business leaders call for city action

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2000

Ironton business leaders want the city cleaned up and in top shape to help promote future and present marketing strategies.

Thursday, January 20, 2000

Ironton business leaders want the city cleaned up and in top shape to help promote future and present marketing strategies.

Email newsletter signup

If the city isn’t clean, the chances of new businesses relocating to Ironton are slim, Ironton Business Association co-president Lou Pyles said.

Without taking responsibility for keeping streets swept, catch basins clean and free of debris and generally putting the city’s best foot forward, new job opportunities will be impossible to gain, Mrs. Pyles said.

"Seemingly, in the last several weeks, there have been many meetings, a lot of discussion and a sense of cohesiveness to do something positive for the town to reverse this economic plague that has besieged our city," she said. "I share, and certainly the membership of the IBA shares, the evident desire to market the virtues of our city and labor force. But, one of the first things that has to occur in any marketing situation is that you have to offer an attractive, desirable product."

Although Ironton has the potential to fit that description, Mrs. Pyles said the current state of the city is not one that is conducive to attracting new industry.

As the city faces the early months of a new century in a state of financial distress, Ironton City Council members promise they are toughening up and preparing for the long road ahead.

Local businesses are doing the same. While Christmas sales remained unaffected by the recent layoffs and closures at Cabletron Systems Inc., Honeywell (formerly AlliedSignal) and Ashland Inc., as well as the imminent February shutdown of Intermet-Ironton Iron, managers are bracing for the impact on their spring sales.

"As far as the Christmas sales, I think most of that was already purchased before the announcement (that Ironton Iron will close in February)," Ames general manager Paul Goebel said. "What it will really affect are the spring sales. I think we’ll see more of a difference then."

While businesses, families and the city face the biggest battles of the new millennium – positioning Ironton back into an era of sound economic growth –  Mrs. Pyles said some of the first efforts must start within city limits.

"Currently, I challenge any member of (city council) to view trash in the gutters, buildings in disrepair, poor and inadequate signage, uncontained garbage piled in the alleys, weeds in the tree lawns, inadequately maintained construction sites and the list goes on," she said. "And, if you leave our downtown area and go into the residential area, you will see junk cars, houses with furniture and appliances piled on porches, filth in the alleys and poorly maintained or dilapidated properties."

Without a concentrated effort to enforce community laws designed to prevent destruction and disrepair, jobs will stay away and sales at existing businesses will continue to plummet.

"What kind of first impressions or lasting impressions do these conditions leave on first-time visitors or prospective businesses or industries?" she said. "We have to clean up our city if we are to market it properly."

Last year, council rejected a measure to purchase a new street sweeper on the grounds that the budget could face trouble in the new century due to revenue losses. The vote predated Ironton-Iron’s announcement of closure.

Council did, however, pass ordinances that allow for strict enforcement of rules requiring residents to keep personal property clean and free of junk cars and appliances.

While Ironton Mayor Bob Cleary said the city’s old street sweeper has been repaired, a lack of manpower during the Christmas holiday season did keep the sweeper from running its route properly.

Ironton Health Department director Charlie Kouns said fines for keeping property clean have been issued and that codes are being enforced.

But, the city will have to step up that enforcement to keep area business leaders satisfied that every marketing effort is being done, Mrs. Pyles said.

"I request immediate action," she said. "I would like the administration to publish an action plan on how they are going to address this situation."