In the current economy, a city must form partnerships to be successful, said Pataskala city administrator Tim Boland.

In the current economy, a city must form partnerships to be successful, said Pataskala city administrator Tim Boland.

"There's a new reality for advancing the quality of life for communities," he said.

Boland has created a multifaceted outline of goals and projects for 2012, beginning with job creation. He said most municipalities are working with less money and equipment since the recent recession.

"If realities have changed, we need to change," he said.

Many municipalities, Boland said, are using economic restraints as excuses, in a way, to pull back from completing city projects.

"We would reject that," he said. "We need to be more creative."

For Boland, being more creative means reaching out to area citizens and local government entities for mutual aid, including working with volunteers and volunteer organizations, creating public-private projects and cooperating with local governments. He cited improvements to Pataskala's Sterling Theater, creation of the city's new Veterans Green and memorial, Pataskala's involvement with the Grow Licking County Community Investment Corp. and the Pataskala Corporate Park as examples of the city's commitment to partnerships.

The ultimate goal of these partnerships, Boland said, is to create a healthy and balanced community whereby economic development and an expanding business center generate jobs and revenue to lessen the tax burden on its residents.

"It's important to do what we can to balance that out," he said. "We can't go back to past methods. We have to change our approach."

In looking ahead to the rest of the year, Boland's list of goals and projects aimed at creating jobs in Pataskala begins with attracting investment in and development of the Pataskala Corporate Park.

This includes increasing the local joint economic development district's (JEDD) role in promoting the park and addressing procedural matters concerning development of a rail spur to gain the attention of investors.

Boland said the city should work closely with small businesses to retain them and assist them in expanding their investments in Pataskala through "business-friendly" initiatives. Also, the city should build on its strong relationship with the Licking County Chamber of Commerce, JobsOhio and the Columbus2020! partnership to increase its regional profile, he said.

"Economic development is a regional type of reality," said Boland. "We are impressed with how (Columbus2020!) has had a focused approach to marketing."

The opportunity to work with Columbus2020! has been an advantage, as has being involved with the Etna Corporate Park and the job-ready site, and trying to attract development there.

Boland intends to continue working closely with Etna Township.

"Developers aren't looking at local jurisdictions," he said. "They're looking at what site is going to provide them the best opportunity, and this area provides an opportunity for job growth."

Boland said the city would also like to reach out to the Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school districts to form partnerships for economic growth.

However, not all economic development stems from outside Pataskala.

"The city has a responsibility to look at the infrastructure of Pataskala," Boland said.

He said Pataskala has three downtown areas - Summit Station, Columbia Center and the Old Village - and they have not always received the attention they deserve.

This year, Boland said, he would like to see the city focus on downtown revitalization and incentive area development, some of which may be funded through a state Community Development Block Grant program, also known as a Small Cities program grant, which would address infrastructure and marketing in the Old Village downtown area.

Planning and zoning director Dianne Harris said the city received preliminary approval for the grant.

A formal announcement could be made at the Feb. 6 council meeting.

In addition, Boland wants the city hold an annual economic-development event.

"In the past, we've held events with the (county) chamber, MODE (the Mid-Ohio Development Exchange) and the (job-ready site) opening event," he said.

Boland said economic development is just one piece of the puzzle in creating a healthy city. He also intends for the administration and council to address infrastructure and utilities throughout the city, employee development, planning and zoning, recreation and local and regional communications.

"If we can excel in all these areas," Boland said, "I would argue we'll have a very successful 2012."