Baumhower: CES or bustWritten by Jeremy Baumhower | | email@example.com
As a father of four, my biggest struggle as a parent is choosing Northwest Ohio as the place to raise my family. My issue is really simple — what kind of career options will my children have if we continue to call Toledo home? I fully expect my offspring to receive a higher education, locally or wherever their hearts choose. I want them to get jobs in the careers they want, for them to fall in love, have families and to live the American Dream. If we were to move now to a more thriving city, a metropolis with younger professionals, where the population is booming, would I improve my chances of living closer to any potential grandchildren?
How many of you reading this right now are currently planning a trip to see your grandkids? You raised your children right, they got their educations, they started families but had to choose to live in another city so they could work. You worked your ass off at Jeep, sacrificed your body to send your children to college and your reward has been spending your weekends in the car or on a plane just to see your own flesh and blood. I don’t want that life. I want something different and I want this city I love, Toledo, to evolve. I want us to get young again, and to do that we need an economic makeover.
Mayor Mike Bell just returned to Toledo following his fourth trip to China. He was joined by 18 others on a five-city tour of the communist superpower in hopes of bringing jobs back to Toledo. I am not holding my breath for the success of the trip. I love his effort, I love his energy, but both were misspent. I would love to know what the thought process is on trying to convince Chinese investors to move jobs to Toledo, when they pay their workers nearly nothing there. The true result of these trips to China is a ton of private sales of local property to people who live more than 10,000 miles away. We have a hard enough time with slumlords who live in our city, let alone China.
These trips to China are one reason I am considering moving my family away. Instead of focusing our economic future on a land where the average hourly wage in a factory is $1.36, why don’t we aim higher and smarter?
In August 2012, Apple, the maker of iPods, iPhones, etc., was listed as the most valuable company in the world at $621 billion. Of the five largest U.S. companies (based on market capitalization), three are tech-based: Apple, Microsoft and Google. If we want to change the landscape and future of Toledo, we may want to start by changing our focus from China to Silicon Valley in California. Here’s how we can start.
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the biggest event in technology, is scheduled for Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas. More than 156,000 people attended last year, along with nearly every tech company in the world. These four days are used for rolling out prototypes, announcing new lines and looking for great investment opportunities. This is where Toledo needs to be represented. Bell attended a high-tech fair while in China, so why not rent a 100-square-foot booth ($4,200) to introduce the future of the world’s economy to the best place to raise a family?
We need the right marketing approach; we need to brand Toledo. We need to sell to the world what we already know, that Toledo is a wonderful place to call home. Toledo has an affordable cost of living, especially with housing. Investors’ dollars will go further here, which is perfect for startups. We have an airport, with land available nearby and access to the Great Lakes. Two of the state’s most-traveled highways, I-75 and 80/90, intersect in our back yard, perfect for an Amazon hub. We have the empty buildings, the hardest workers, we are 60 miles south of Detroit, 247 miles east of Chicago and we are motivated.
We need this change.
The 1992 Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman movie “Far and Away” features a scene depicting the Oklahoma land rush. The poignant moment shows settlers with white flags racing across a vast empty land, claiming parcels of property. In the booth at the 2013 CES, we should have hundreds of white flags. We should give our land away in a first ever “Toledo Tech Rush.” Let’s create a plan full of tax abatements and incentives, and show investors how much more money they can make by coming to Toledo.
According to the CES officials I spoke to, no U.S. city has ever marketed themselves this way; we would be a first.
Mayor Bell’s trips to China are mostly ceremonial, similar to the All-America City campaigns former mayor Carty Finkbeiner was so focused on. These trips are media friendly, just not efficient for job creation. The mayor had the right idea, trying to get tech jobs, he just chose the wrong place. Mayor Bell has the right energy and he loves our city. He just needs a better approach — or at least one from this century, let alone this decade.
I really love raising my family here, but if something doesn’t change, I love them enough to move.
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