City of Toledo: Building relationshipsWritten by Dean Monske | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2010 the Bell administration focused on building relationships. For years our community partners have worked together, collaborating on economic development by focusing and pooling their resources, yet Toledo has tried to be all things to all suitors. For the past year we’ve worked to provide better and more focused service by partnering with existing programs and agencies in Northwest Ohio —building their programs and allowing Toledo to offer the ancillary support services that city government was designed to provide.
By working with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, we’re helping connect more small business owners and entrepreneurs with the Small Business Development Center. Businesses can access one-on-one counseling as they develop or grow their business, increasing their chances of success. From here the City is able to provide assistance through economic development loans, façade grants and limited tax abatements for qualifying employers. By working together with the chamber we are putting more abundant resources at the fingertips of Toledo’s business community.
Another partnership that we worked to establish in 2010 was for retention and expansion of existing Toledo businesses. By joining together with the Lucas County Improvement Corporation we are able to fund two dedicated specialists who call on existing Toledo businesses. Most new jobs are created by the expansion of existing businesses — not new businesses moving in with hundreds of new positions to fill. While pursuing companies to locate in Toledo is important we need to ensure that we’re continuing to meet the needs of existing businesses that already call Toledo home and help them to grow their enterprise as an ongoing part of Toledo’s economy.
The city was also able this year to participate with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority for the development of the Diversified Contractors Accelerator Program. The program is administered by the port authority and allows greater participation by minority and women-owned contractors in publicly bid work — including city projects. By working with the port authority, Lucas County, University of Toledo, and local chambers of commerce we can open more doors to minority and women owned businesses looking to contribute to Northwest Ohio’s economy. This is an important step in growing and supporting investment and development in greater Toledo.
Finally, in 2010, the City turned our eye to the global economy. In September, Mayor Bell and I joined a small group of local business representative in a trip to China to explore the possibilities of attracting investors to Toledo. I additionally had the opportunity to visit Mexico and we’ve been privileged to welcome several foreign guests interested in what Toledo has to offer. This region is an ideal location for North American expansion for many reasons — and many of our partners have contributed to creating these ideal conditions.
The intersection of the Maumee River, Lake Erie, with railroads and highways traveling in all directions have created a logistics hub putting Northwest Ohio at the center of the new manufacturing economy. There are limitless educational and research opportunities at the region’s colleges and universities and Toledo is additionally rich in ethnic, cultural and leisure activities, creating an ideal community to raise a family. These are all attractive benefits for investors looking to expand their business and establish roots.
Building relationships and partnerships was key in 2010. In 2011, the City of Toledo will continue to forge ahead by strengthening these partnerships and finding additional ways to collaborate.
Dean Monske is deputy mayor of external relations for the City of Toledo.