Toledo's Best Days are Still to Come

In 2014, the effects of the Great Recession could still be felt, with perhaps the single greatest indicator of this economic downturn seen in the per capita income of the average Toledo citizen.

The most recent data demonstrates that the average Toledoan earned less than $20,000 per year. Of all of the political subdivisions in the State of Ohio, Toledo ranked in the bottom half in terms of per capita income. This is simply unacceptable.

To combat this stark reality, the city’s economic development department has focused its efforts on fundamentals. Studies have shown that 80 to 90 percent of all economic growth comes from the existing business core. Accordingly, the city is focusing its energy and resources on an outreach program to Toledo businesses to provide support for those companies considering expansion. In partnership with the Regional Growth Partnership, more than 300 businesses were contacted in 2014.

This outreach program has already produced results. As of Dec. 20, 712 jobs have been retained and 648 jobs have been created in the community. From an income tax standpoint, these jobs will generate more than $1.6 million that will flow directly into the general fund.

Job creation will continue to be a focus of my administration. Job creation is the result of private businesses feeling comfortable investing capital in an environment where there is an appropriate labor force and land and facilities to accommodate their business models.

Toledo has a rich history of an exceptionally skilled workforce. This is why the slogan “It Matters Where You Make It” is so powerful. Any business engaged in manufacturing must consider Toledo as a location for its production facility.

In 2015, the city, in conjunction with its economic development partners, including the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, is going to work to ensure that these skills remain sharp. A specific example of this can be seen in the relationship between the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council, the contractor community and the residents of the city. A number of programs are being developed that will provide training and employment opportunities for the youth of Toledo. The emphasis here is providing a career that will increase the per capita income for our residents.

Toledo’s industrial legacy has been a double-edged sword for our community. On the one hand, a skilled workforce has been assembled to advance this manufacturing cluster. However, this industrial legacy has left strategically located properties in need of environmental remediation before they can be put back into the stream of commerce.

Between the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the City of Toledo, more than 350 acres of property have been acquired and remediated so that jobs can be created. Most recently, the city closed on 30 acres of property near Fiat Chrysler’s Toledo North Assembly Plant. In 2015, this land will be remediated and redeveloped.

In 2015, an increased emphasis will be placed on quality of life issues. Efforts continue to make our Downtown a vibrant, safe and socially friendly environment. The city is working with the Mud Hens, the Toledo Museum of Art and the Toledo Zoo on bike trails that will allow Downtown residents to have better access to some of the community’s most significant treasures.

Outside events forced many previous mayors to manage decline. I am confident, however, that through the hard work and passion of our residents and team members, I will have the honor of being in a position to lead and inspire economic growth in our community. Toledo’s best days are still to come.

D. Michael Collins is mayor of Toledo.

As first seen in the Toledo Free Press