Development Viisons: Ford — Northwest Ohio poised to turn the corner in 2012Written by Ford Weber | | firstname.lastname@example.org
2012 will most likely be a year of continued economic distress at the global and national levels, but there is good reason to believe this will be the year Northwest Ohio begins outperforming the national economy.
With global factors such as the Euro crisis impacting our economy from abroad, and domestic burdens such as the loss of home equity and high consumer debt impeding our economic recovery, one might expect the Toledo region to continue to underperform the national average. However, a number of positive developments are combining to reinvigorate our region’s economy.
First, manufacturers are making major investments in our region. For example:
- Chrysler recently announced a $500 million investment in the Toledo Assembly Complex and the addition of 1,105 jobs (in 2013) as well as a $72 million investment in the Toledo Machining Plant in Perrysburg Township that will retain 640 jobs.
- GM Powertrain is investing more than $200 million in its Toledo plant to create 250 jobs.
- Johnson Controls is investing $138 million to retain 400 jobs and add 50 jobs.
- Whirlpool is investing $175 million in its plant in Clyde and adding more than 900 jobs, while also adding 100 jobs in Ottawa.
- Isofoton is building a $30 million solar panel manufacturing plant that will create 300 jobs in Napoleon.
- FWT is creating 200 jobs in Defiance County by investing $500,000 to renovate a closed manufacturing facility.
Second, our advantages as a transportation and logistics hub are paying off with major investments such as:
- CSX is developing a “game changing” intermodal hub in North Baltimore at a cost of $175 million that will directly create 200 jobs and lead to as many 2,000 additional jobs.
- Midwest Terminals is investing $5 million in the former Chevron site near the Port Authority docks.
- BX Solutions has risen from the ashes of the closure of BAX Global’s Toledo Express Airport facility to create 200 jobs in only two months of operations.
- Menards is adding up to 350 jobs at its distribution center in Williams County.
Third, regional collaboration is improving. Our political, civic and business leadership is recognizing that all of us share the same regional strengths. Our skilled, hardworking regional workforce enables businesses to draw on talent from a multicounty regional “commutershed.” Jobs that are created in one community within the region are no longer seen as an opportunity lost by other area communities but as employment and business opportunities to which all of us have access. The Toledo Region branding initiative is one of the best examples of our new regional collaboration. I encourage you to visit www.ToledoRegion.com and see firsthand how we are marketing our region’s strengths and competitive advantages.
Fourth, our local schools, colleges and universities are continuing to produce skilled workers for the modern economy. As baby boomers accelerate their rate of retirement, the need for a flexible, highly skilled work force will be greater than ever. Our strong mix of educational institutions should enable Northwest Ohio to meet these challenges more effectively than many other regions.
Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development Association’s (NORED) members have played major roles in the projects mentioned above. In 2012, NORED will continue its core mission of promoting regional collaboration, advocating for economic development programs and policies, and furthering the professional development of local economic development practitioners. In doing so, we hope to usher in a broader and deeper economic prosperity.
Ford Weber is president and CEO of Lucas County Improvement Corporation and vice president of the Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development Association (NORED), a 12-county nonprofit association of economic development practitioners and partners. Email him at email@example.com.