New name, same plan for economic developmentWritten by D'Naie Jacobs | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Historically, universities have not been fully engaged in their communities, much less their economic development efforts. However, times have changed.
Today, it is clear that universities and the communities in which they are located cannot survive, much less grow without the other. A strong community needs a strong university. A strong university needs a strong community. Therefore, UT is proud to play an important role in the development of our Toledo-Regional Economic Plan.
UT does this every day by educating our region’s future entrepreneurs and leaders, creating knowledge in our laboratories, providing guidance and support for young companies and seeking partnerships in Northwest Ohio and around the world.
All of these initiatives and more are needed to help Northwest Ohio remain competitive in today’s global-knowledge economy. To that end, among other efforts, UT is working to double its amount of research grants to $120 million annually, working to recruit and retain the most talented students and faculty and to foster an atmosphere of entrepreneurship.
As initiators of the Toledo-Regional Economic Plan (formerly Meta-Plan) — the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Regional Growth Partnership, Toledo-Regional Chamber of Commerce, Toledo-Area Metropolitan Council of Governments, Lucas County Improvement Corporation, City of Toledo and UT continue to try to answer some of the most important economic questions that we face: How do we maximize area economic development resources and improve Northwest Ohio’s competitiveness for state and federal funding? How do we make sure the economic development roadmap is easy to navigate for potential companies interested in coming to Northwest Ohio? How do our strategic plans align with the Ohio Department of Development’s strategic plan? How do we mobilize our existing Northwest Ohio industry clusters to create jobs?
Industrial clusters driven by knowledge and innovation
One of the main initiatives of the Toledo-Regional Economic Plan is to advance Northwest Ohio’s industrial clusters. These five clusters, or areas of strength, as identified by many local studies, are:
1. Advanced and renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass)
2. Advanced materials and manufacturing
3. Biosciences (medical devices, specialized agriculture)
4. Transportation and logistics
5. Architecture, engineering and construction services.
Getting the leaders of the groups just mentioned in the same room to discuss how to best capitalize on our strengths and resources, like the Toledo-Regional Economic Plan does, bodes well for our future.
Work groups have been formed to develop unique strategies for each of Northwest Ohio’s clusters. Working together, we can better capitalize on our region’s strengths, resulting in more jobs and more opportunities here at home. And as our clusters compete globally, it is our knowledge and innovation that will set them apart.
Yes, UT will play an important role in reinventing our region’s economy. But as UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs underscored at a recent meeting of the Toledo-Regional Economic Plan, our area must speak with one voice, and everyone must serve as ambassadors of our region. He said: “By showing our unity of purpose and voice, we will better compete for the resources and outcomes that we are seeking.” That is exactly what the Toledo-Regional Economic Plan is all about.
D’Naie Jacobs is associate director for economic development at UT.