Pounds: Outside looking inWritten by Michael Miller | Editor in Chief Emeritus | email@example.com
One of the accomplishments touted by outgoing Toledo Mayor Mike Bell (and how odd it is to write that qualifier) is his effort to bring the suburban neighborhoods back to Toledo’s economic development and partnership table. After some rocky years under former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, Bell worked to be welcoming and inclusive, illustrating his understanding that Toledo is only one spoke in the larger wheel that is Northwest Ohio.
Bell’s loss to Toledo City Councilman D. Michael Collins last week has some businesspeople and suburban partners concerned; it’s not a knock against Collins, but these people are unwittingly trading the known quantity of Bell’s friendship and proven outreach for the unknown and untested plans of a new administration.
One prominent suburban developer I spoke to this week remains optimistic.
“Collins is the mayor of Toledo, not Northwest Ohio,” he said. “Toledo is the most prominent player, but it is not as dominant as it once was.”
The developer spoke at great length about the many major companies making investments in Northwest Ohio for their distribution centers: Home Depot, Calphalon, FedEx Freight, UPS, Menards, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Hercules Tire & Rubber and Meijer, to name a few. Notably, none of these companies chose to set up within Toledo’s city limits, and the vast majority of them are not union shops.
Whether those facts are related is a conversation for another time.
So while Toledo itself debates economic development approaches and the best ways to attract jobs, the suburbs are leaps and bounds ahead of us.
“There is a tremendous amount of good news to share, but it gets overshadowed by Toledo’s focus on itself and its problems,” my developer friend said. “We were making great strides with Bell in erasing borders and thinking like one cohesive region. We hope to pick up that conversation with Collins and continue moving in the right direction. But if Toledo turns its attention inward, it is not going to stop the progress and job creation we are developing in the rest of Northwest Ohio.”
We know Collins has promised to focus on Toledo’s problems and I expect to see some immediate and dramatic improvements in many of Toledo’s surface issues. But I — and our suburban partners — hope those short-term improvements do not come at the expense of Toledo’s long-term relationships with the suburbs — and the rest of the global marketplace.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Pess Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.