Fernandez speaks at TMACOG annual meetingWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, said that “regions must work together to compete globally in the 21st century” during his keynote address at the annual meeting of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments Jan. 26 at the Perrysburg Holiday Inn.
His address followed the theme of TMACOG’s annual meeting, “Sustaining Economic Development Strategies” and the topic of member caucuses and a panel discussion.
“The president laid out a very clear vision for America in his State of the Union Address,” said Fernandez, who also serves as administrator of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).
“We can’t be afraid to compete in an aggressive way so we can achieve our goals by coming together across borders. We’re all in this together to build strong regional economies.”
“The Mayor of Toledo has a strong base of regional collaboration with public and private partnerships. The greater Toledo area understands the value of that collaboration. I’m a huge advocate of public and private partnerships,” said Fernandez, a former mayor of Bloomington, Ind.
President Obama recognized Toledo as a manufacturing city that is reinventing itself in a visit he made here last year, said Fernandez.
“Northwest Ohio is very competitive in the global economy. It’s about the regions working to compete, not with each other, but globally with competitors around the world.”
“What we hope to bring to the region is a willing federal partner to support the regions. Our goal is to help create partnerships and build from the bottom up. Strategies for the 21st century must focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and regionalization” he said.
“We’re in a unique position to help cities like Toledo. We focus on working with local communities through regionalization,” said Cleve Mesidor, director of public affairs for the EDA who accompanied Fernandez to Toledo.
“We all want the same thing – a better economy and quality of life. I know we can do this. It won’t be easy but we must stay focused on that goal,” Fernandez said concluding his address.
“We’re committed to improving this region of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. Things are beginning to happen and there’s a new energy in our region,” Anthony Reams, president of TMACOG, told the audience.
Fernandez admitted being a native of Ohio when Reams presented him with a box of candy Buckeyes as a memento of his trip to Northwest Ohio.
As EDA administrator, Fernandez has aligned the EDA’s resources and programs to drive development and increase job creation. The Jobs and Innovation Partnership was launched as its initiative to help the private sector flourish and bind together vibrant regional economies.
The EDA is a key player in the federal multi-agency Taskforce on Advancing Regional Innovation Clusters, which will work to increase public-private partnerships and private sources of capital. It also collaborates with the White House Council on Auto Communities and Workers to provide resources and technical assistance to auto-impacted communities like Toledo.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke placed the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship under the leadership of Fernandez to accelerate the commercialization of university-based research. Fernandez recognized the research being conducted at the University of Toledo under the leadership of Dr. Lloyd Jacobs who was in attendance.
TMACOG re-elects officers
Members of TMACOG re-elected its officers to serve another year in 2011 to include Theodore Rutherford, mayor of Green Springs, as chair; Carol Contrada, Lucas County Commissioner, as second chair; and Nelson Evans of the Perrysburg City Council as second vice chair. The officers were sworn in by Judge Mark Repp of the Municipal Court in Tiffin.
Members nominated and elected colleagues to serve on the board of trustees, councils and various committees at the business meeting of TMACOG.