By Mayor Michael P. Bell
Partnership has been a running theme in economic development throughout my administration and it’s a track that I will continue to pursue because I believe it is working. It’s no secret that the Toledo Region was hit hard by the recession over the last five years, but we have collectively worked to build on the solid industrial foundations of our past while diversifying our effort to attract new business. As a result of this collaborative effort and unified message, we are positioned as the center of the new manufacturing economy with a world class workforce, educational assets, research and development resources and logistical capabilities that provide access to much ofNorth America. By partnering to promote this message we have attracted interest nationally and internationally. We began to see the fruits of this effort in 2011 and I believe we will see even greater progress in 2012.
Manufacturing has provided the foundation for our local economy for years. Libbey Glass, GM Powertrain and Jeep have been staples of our local economy for years, and they were hit by the recession just like every other business in Northwest Ohio. Yet these three corporations remain major employers in Toledo and continue producing products that are used across the globe. Even better they are beginning to see growth. The City and our partners continue to work together to make the case for these companies continuing and expanding their operations in Toledo. As we look forward to 2012 I’m excited to see the capital expansion plans, job creation efforts and community involvement of our major employers continue and expand in Toledo and the region. This will be key toToledo’s ongoing recovery in 2012 and beyond.
Also in 2012 we look forward to the opening of Hollywood Casino Toledo. Over the last year we have watched impressive development on the east bank of the river take place for what could be Ohio’s first casino. Already, Penn National has begun to hire employees for all roles once the facility is open to the public. The economic impact of this project has been felt in our city for months as men and women worked on the bricks and mortar portion of this project due to collaboration between labor and business. The next step will be collaboration with our hospitality industry to welcome those visitingToledo to take advantage of this new attraction.
In 2012 the city will continue to reach out with our partners to tell our story around the country and the globe. As I have travelled throughout the last year with other members of the Toledo Region’s economic development team, we continue to be received with awe as we describe this region’s assets. Property is affordable; there is abundant access to fresh water; you can reach half of nation within one day’s drive and we have access to unlimited educational resources through the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University,Owens Community College and many other technical and trade school programs. Our arts and culture opportunities could compete with any other major city in the country when you consider our zoo, symphony, opera, multiple ballet companies, theater programs and local live music. Yet these are assets that we continue to take for granted in our community. The City of Toledo has been part of the effort over the last two years to get our business community and economic development contributors moving in the same direction. My goal for 2012 is to get our citizens to join in that movement. I’m frequently approached by people who want to help turn Toledo around. I tell them to be positive. When someone asks you about Toledo, tell them about the good parts; the reasons you stay and the things that make you proud. Tell them why you think they would like it here. Toledo is making progress and there is a role for everyone to help, from the big corporations, to researchers in university labs and students in the classroom. Everyone can play a role in the partnership we have worked to build on over the last few years and everyone’s role will be essential to continuing our revitalization in 2012.
As printed in the Toledo Free Press, January 2012.