When it comes to the local economy, there have been two major conversations taking place over the last few years. The first conversation has been what could be done in an effort to spur economic growth in the Northwest Ohio region. The second conversation has been regarding outside money flowing into Toledo, whether it be through the Hollywood Casino or the purchase of the Marina District. Many Toledoans may have forgotten or may not have realized that outside capital is what made our community great, even putting us on the map as the Glass City.
To imagine that residents alone are going to be able to provide the financial resources to boost Toledo’s economy is an unobtainable dream. Imagine if the City of Toledo were to tax citizens at an obscenely high rate, and then deploy that capital locally. Money would have changed hands without any real net effect to speak of. Money coming from outside the region is what will ignite the growth that we need to see, and history proves it so.
The Stranahan family is one that has invested a great deal of time, money and support into the Toledo community, but they were not originally from Toledo. Robert Stranahan and Frank Stranahan founded Champion Spark Plug in 1908 in Boston, but moved to Toledo in 1910. In the last 103 years, the Stranahan family’s impact on the area is easily noticed; between the Stranahan Theater, the R.A. Stranahan Arboretum and more, the Stranahan’s certainly invested heavily in Toledo.
Charles Dana founded both the Dana Corporation and the Dana Foundation, but was not a Toledo native. Charles was originally from New York and his father from Vermont. While originally incorporated in 1904, Dana moved to Toledo in 1928, but has since relocated to Maumee. According to their website, Dana employees more than 20,000 people worldwide.
Edward Libbey was born in Chelsea, MA, but moved to open Libbey Glass Co in 1888. In 1903, Libbey founded the Owens Bottle Machine Company with Michael Joseph Owens (who was born in West Virginia but also relocated to Toledo), which would later become known as O-I. Libbey once again delivered jobs and money to Toledo by starting the Libbey Owens Sheet Glass Company in 1916. Aside from making Toledo the Glass City, Libbey also founded the Toledo Art Museum, even donating a substantial portion of his art collection over the span of his life.
All of these families brought business to Toledo, and their future generations invested capital and resources to make the community better. Today we do not provide outside money with the same warm welcome. When Hollywood was coming to town, many citizens were hesitant to show support, despite the fact that the Casino was sure to provide thousands of local jobs and has provided substantial funds to local schools and charities. The Marina District has been met with similar resistance, as some citizens have feared that overseas investment in Toledo could somehow inexplicably be bad for the local economy.
We do not live in the same world that we did 100 years ago, or even 25 years ago for that matter. Advancements in technology have allowed us to invest in ways that we never before could. Instead of money coming to Toledo from Massachusetts or New York, we now see money coming from China or Germany. If Toledo ever wants to thrive the way it once did, we need to welcome these investors with open arms to our wonderful community.