Deadline Now: Regional Economic Development
Friday, August 26, 2011
Paul L. Toth Jr., Executive Director and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, and Ford Weber, President & CEO of the Lucas County Improvement Corporation (LCIC) are this week's special guests.
Founded in 1955, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority was the first port authority in Ohio. Today, the Port Authority focuses on three initiatives -- Maritime, Aviation and Development.
The LCIC is a private, non-profit corporation working to retain, attract and grow businesses; align workforce development with career opportunities; and facilitate the development of brownfields and other vacant and under-used properties.
Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of Deadline Now:
Back in the old days, we tended to see transportation issues as if they were separated into rigidly defined compartments or silos. There were railroad issues and water issues and road issues.
Similarly we saw manufacturing and development much the same way. There were blue-collar concerns and white-collar concerns. There were steel industry problems, and problems that affected grain, and problems that affected the auto industry.
Yet that age is ending, just as the era has ended where everyone went to work every day at the same time in the same factory or other building somewhere, usually downtown.
These days, it’s no longer so much a matter of management versus union or this industry versus that, but of revitalizing the Toledo area. We have to become competitive, if we are to regain our old prosperity, and we are all in this together. It’s no longer a matter of Ford vs. GM or Toledo vs. Detroit or Cleveland, but one of our region trying to be economically competitive with the rest of the nation.
And in many areas, the rest of the world. That’s what the port authority, the Lucas County Improvement Corporation, and the Regional Growth Partnership are trying to do these days.
Toledo has problems, and legacies of the past to overcome. Those include brownfields and the remains of an outmoded manufacturing infrastructure, and also to some extent, old ways of thinking and a sometimes defeatist mentality.
But we also have a lot going for us.
Thirty years ago, in his book The Great Lakes States of America, author Neal Peirce observed that since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a boy could actually go to Toledo to run away to sea, although it was doubtful whether any did.
What is true is that Toledo’s proximity to both the Great Lakes and the oceans, plus freeway and rail, make our region potentially highly competitive. Having a single, highly experienced port authority overseeing air and water transportation is a major plus as well.
There’s a general agreement that multimodal or intermodal transportation is the coming thing, and an intense competition is now under way to determine which area will be the regional hub. Detroit area planners are hoping for a site between Willow Run and Detroit Metropolitan airports. But they lack some things Toledo has.
If we manage sufficient regional cooperation and coordination, Toledo just might surprise a lot of people.