Speaker cites new rules for building 21st century city at conferenceWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The rules have changed for making successful communities in the 21st century, keynote speaker Tom Murphy told attendees at the 12th annual State of the Region Conference held April 14 by the Center for Regional Development at Bowling Green State University.
“Globalization is changing the way we do business today. Toledo, you’re in a revolution here whether you know it or not,” said Murphy, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute.
“Cities making choices to invest in infrastructure will succeed. It’s always been a challenge to decide how we’re going to invest. How can we take resources for development and invest for the future?” Murphy asked the audience.
“You need to think of Toledo, not as it is today, but as it can be in the future. You have to understand what your strengths are and use them to compete,” Murphy said.
In order to succeed, he said “cities need leadership that reaches and challenges you to create a vision for the future.” They must have a plan and strategy for development to build a 21st century city.
Murphy cited the revitalization of Pittsburgh, where he served as mayor for three terms, as an example.
With the demise of the steel and other industries and 22 percent unemployment, Pittsburgh began losing half its population at a rate of 50,000 residents per year beginning in 1983. It went from having 60 percent of its workers employed in manufacturing to only 15 percent today, Murphy reported.
“Intentionality is the key. We made an intentional decision to turn our city around,” he said. They raised $100 million dollars locally and bought nearly 1,500 acres of vacant land once home to the steel mills.
Murphy said they invested in the cultural community and reclaimed the waterfront. They demolished the former Three Rivers Stadium and built new stadiums for the professional baseball and football teams.
The city took advantage of the educational and research capabilities of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh to build a new economy. As a result, Google opened an office there that now employs 800 people, Murphy reported.
“Education is critical and means everything in this economy,” said Murphy, who recognized Toledo’s high school graduation rate that is higher than the national average.
He also cited examples of the Research Triangle in North Carolina where they transformed a tobacco economy into one of research and technology. It now has the highest per capita income in the U.S.
He pointed to Chicago where they are investing $2 billion in development around Millennium Park. Seven counties and 32 municipalities around Denver are investing $2 billion in development of a light rail system to help prevent further urban sprawl.
Murphy challenged members of the audience to get involved in helping to make Toledo a city for the 21st century.
“Just think about all the great opportunities we have to impact the economy in our region,” Rodney Rogers, provost and vice president for academic affairs at BGSU, told attendees to open the conference.
BGSU’s Center for Regional Development reported on the state of the region’s economy in 2014.
“We’re better off than we were two years ago. The numbers are going in the right direction. We must diversify the economy in the region to continue growing,” said Michael Carroll, director of the CRD at BGSU.
The CRD reported that 6,600 new jobs were created in the region since 2009 for 1.18 percent employment growth. However, that figure is still well below the national average growth of 4.66 percent.
The Northwest Ohio region of 17 counties now has a population of 1.23 million people. With a labor force of about 600,000 workers, 534,100 are employed for 7.7 percent unemployment.
There are 63,172 firms in the region according to Hoovers, a Dunn and Bradstreet company. Of those firms, only 3,165 are engaged in manufacturing with only 122 involved in making vehicle parts.
Most of those firms, 52,490, have 10 employees or less, while 2,137 have more than 50 employees and 601, more than 100. Of the16 largest publicly-owned firms in the region, 10 or 63 percent had negative revenue growth in 2013, while only six (47 percent) had positive growth.
The economic outlook for the region in three sectors was addressed by three panelists at the conference.
Jack Penning of the Pixel Consulting Group, Inc. reported that regional air service has an impact on the local economy. He said the new knowledge-based economy relies more on air service for the global markets and that air service is often the top factor in deciding company relocations.
Kevin Smith of the Association of General Contractors of Northwest Ohio reported that things are improving for the construction trades with the housing, office and retail markets making a comeback. The organization represents 400 contractors with 10,000 to 12,000 employees in the region.
Aaron Pitts of Jobs Ohio said that program is working with six regions in Ohio to create and retain jobs. JobsOhio works with the Regional Growth Partnership in the Northwest Ohio region interacting with many local firms in the region.
Tags: Aaron Pitts, Association of General Contractors of Northwest Ohio, BGSU, BGSU’s Center for Regional Development, Bowling Green State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Center for Regional Development, globalization, JobsOhio, Kevin Smith, Michael Carroll, Pittsburgh, Regional Growth Partnership, Research Triangle in North Carolina, State of the Region, State of the Region Conference, Three Rivers Stadium, University of Pittsburgh, Urban Land Institute