2007: A year of recognition and defined visionWritten by Carty Finkbeiner | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The year 2007 was a year of national and international recognition for Toledo’s quality of life and a year that saw us develop and refine our vision of what our local economy will be in the 21st century.
June 18 was a symbolic day in Toledo’s history. That day, we knocked down the smokestacks from the old Toledo Jeep Plant. The fall of those smokestacks is metaphorical of Toledo’s transition. Once, we were a great manufacturing city where smokestacks abounded. Now, many of those manufacturing jobs are gone, and Toledo has started the transition from smokestacks and pollution to a city of clean technology and alternative fuels. This new industry — one based in cleaning up and preserving the environment — is our economic future.
The City of Toledo’s partner in pursuing this vision of Toledo’s economy is the University of Toledo. Under the leadership of Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, UT has dedicated its resources to assisting the city and being an integral part of our future. The University of Toledo’s Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator and the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization are setting the pace nationally for research in this developing industry.
Toledo’s emergence onto the international stage in the industry of clean technology was noted in the May 26 issue of The Economist. Toledo was mentioned along with high-tech giants such as Austin, Texas and Boston, Mass. The success of Xunlight Corporation in Toledo was noted in an article in Newsweek and recently in the Wall Street Journal. Xunlight emerged from UT’s Alternative Energy Incubator and serves as a model of how intellectual capital is turned into economic development. Xunlight employs 25 people in the manufacturing of thin film, silicon-based solar cells, and is expected to grow dramatically.
Ground has been broken and construction has begun on the City of Toledo Cogeneration Plant at the Hoffman Road landfill. This plant will utilize the methane gas emitted from the landfill to produce electricity and power the new sewage treatment plant on Summit Street.
In addition, a cogeneration plant that will utilize steam generated at the new U.S. Coking plant at the Port of Toledo will allow Toledo to generate its own power for use here locally and reduce the region’s reliance on fossil fuels.
This wonderful city, once known for its smokestacks is becoming known for its environmentally conscious manufacturing technology!
It was also a good year for our traditional industries. General Motors broke ground on a $1 billion expansion and modernization of its Alexis Road transmission plant. While GM closed plants across the country, they invested in the future of Toledo. Chrysler supplier and builder of bodies for the Jeep Wrangler, Kuka, was honored as “Company of the Year” by Kuka International for being the most productive plant in the international Kuka family. This $900 million plant opened in 2006 and cannot keep up with the demand for the very popular Jeep Wrangler Limited.
One of the most effective marketing campaigns for our city is being carried out by Chrysler and Jeep. Their advertising slogan, “Fun Manufactured in Toledo, Ohio!” runs in a number of national and international publications and speaks highly of Toledo.
It was all of this and other successes that led fDi Magazine — published by the Financial Times of London, to declare Toledo “The Most Business Friendly City” in North America in our population category and one of the “Top 10 Cities of the Future.” With an economy based on new and developing technology, we are a city with a bright future.
Our reputation not only grew because of our new economy, we were recognized several times this year for our outstanding quality of life. In February, we were recognized as one of the “100 Best Communities for Young People” by America’s Promise — The Alliance for Youth. To have a bright future, we have to retain and attract young professionals. Making Toledo a great place to grow up is a step in that direction.
In September, the National Conference of Mayors recognized Toledo as having one of the Top Five Best Tasting Drinking Water in America. Free and easy access to the world’s largest supply of fresh water is why Toledo was founded and it is an invaluable part of our future. As Sunbelt states and the South struggled with drought conditions and severe water restrictions, Toledoans enjoyed high-quality water at a very reasonable price.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, several civic leaders traveled to London to present Toledo’s case for being named the world’s “Most Liveable City” in our population category. Toledo finished third and was the only North American city in our population category to be honored. We, as Toledoans, know how great it is to live in a city like Toledo. Now, the world knows that this city on the shores of Lake Erie is one of the most liveable communities in the world.
The trip and the award would not have been possible had it not been for the outpouring of community support we received. We accepted more than $40,000 in corporate and private donations to pay for the expenses associated with the trip. That generosity from the people of Toledo strengthened my faith in this city’s pride and character. Thank you to all who helped Toledo win this distinguished award.
The year was not without its sadness and tragedy. On Feb. 21, Detective Keith Dressel, a proud police officer, husband and father, was gunned down in North Toledo as he and two other detectives broke up a drug deal. The pain and suffering of the Dressel family and his colleagues in the Toledo Police Department were tremendous. However, the outpouring of sympathy and support for the Dressel family and the Toledo Police Department warmed our hearts and helped us get through that difficult time.
Toledo is a city of unlimited potential. Our city has quality neighborhoods, good schools, a great location and caring men and women. With a transforming economy, a downtown renaissance, and an increasingly excellent quality of life, I’ve never been more optimistic about Toledo’s future.
Carty Finkbeiner is mayor of the City of Toledo. He may be contacted at (419) 245-1001.