I write to bring attention to an important topic our candidates for mayor need to address. I refer to economic growth in the 21st century economy and the changes Wooster must make to assure it.

Wooster has enjoyed remarkable economic growth over its 200-plus year history. However, the 21st century economy presents new challenges to our continued prosperity. With 2.5 percent local unemployment, where will corporations find the skilled workers they require if they are to expand their operation in Wooster?

The formula for future economic growth is no mystery. Smart businesses select locations for expansion based largely on the availability of skilled workers. This fact means if Wooster wants continued economic growth, we need to be the kind of town that attracts skilled professionals. And because the workforce of the future is much more diverse than ever before, these skilled professionals want to move their families to communities that offer a broad range of diverse cultural activities. As a result, forward-thinking communities are competing with one another to develop the richest possible cultural life. This means cultural activities aren’t just fun and games, they are the foundation of future economic growth.

Nell Reardon, candidate for mayor, has committed to creating an Arts and Humanities Council to be the central organizing force for expanding and promoting a broader range of diverse cultural activities in Wooster. One guaranteed immediate benefit of an effort like this will be to increase customer flow for our existing downtown businesses.

Of course, other factors play a part in a decision to select a new home, and affordable housing, public transportation and quality education are among them, and these topics must be addressed as well. And Nell has plans for these issues as well. But without a diverse, inclusive cultural life, these factors alone will not draw skilled workers.

Try looking critically at Wooster through the eyes of this diverse future workforce: Does Wooster look like the kind of place you’d want to move your family to? Nell Reardon has plans that will assure the answer is a resounding yes.

Doug Jones