Perhaps more so than any other Midwestern industrial region, Toledo has been rife with infighting for years. On a weekly if not daily basis we see struggles between labor and management, union and non-union, the city versus suburbs, or just one clique versus another.
In doing so, Toledoans – both within the city proper and surrounding metro area – forget a far larger issue which much further reaching consequences.
First, readers should understand that if anyone inside the I-475-75-280 loop around Toledo travels just 20 miles from where they sit, they will find that no one cares if the entire greater Toledo area burns to the ground.
Sure, they know the Mud Hens, and no doubt they’ve heard of our museum or Tony Packo’s; they may even have family here. But on the whole, they couldn’t give a hoot whether Toledo thrives or dies.
That simple fact should tell people in this area something: If the Toledo region is going to prosper, especially over other neighboring regions, it’s only going to do so because of people who are here – people who care, because no one outside cares.
“What’s the point,” one may ask? The point is that instead of having union/non-union or labor/management hostilities, the argument we should be having in this region is Toledo vs. non-Toledo – in a regional sense.
Unfortunately, for years people in this region have been distracted by all the infighting. As a result, non-Toledo won for years. Whether it was Cincinnati, or Chicago, New York or Shenzhen, Toledo has been losing business and talent to other major markets for years; all because we were focused on fighting amongst ourselves about relatively petty issues.
Lest this message be misunderstood, there’s plenty of room for infighting in this or any region. The labor vs. management, union vs. non-union, or big vs. small government disputes have their place, and they can serve to make this area even better. However, this is only true when such arguments take a back seat to the primary issue: Toledo vs. non-Toledo.
In order for this area to thrive, we must be in constant competition with other regions to draw businesses, visitors, investment capital, human talent, etc. Only when we’ve won that contest should we spend time arguing among ourselves about how to make Toledo better by right-sizing government or ensuring strong relations between labor and management.
When we stop focusing on small issues and start thinking on a grander scale, there’s no limit to what we as a region can accomplish. We have the ability to compete with any major market around the globe – if we aren’t busy fighting one another.
Fortunately for Toledo and our residents, no one understands this better than Mike Bell. As Mayor, he has done more than any other public official in decades to focus less on the infighting and more on making Toledo competitive with other regions – and he’s winning.