Toledo Talk

Blade Advertorial: How to Launch an Economic Turnaround

Excerpts from an Aug 16, 2007 full-page ad in the Toledo Blade by Allan Block, Chairman of Block Communications, Inc., which owns the Toledo Blade. I added bolding to a couple areas.

A proposal to bring Toledo back now.

Our area has been in decline, in large part, because of a perception that unions in Toledo do not allow profit comparable to what is possible in other places.

I believe the Toledo labor movement should consider offering a unique Toledo Guarantee that will attract investment to create and protect jobs. This guarantee should include the idea that profit will not be denied by excessive demands from labor. It must be meaningful and tangible to be effective.

I call on top area union and community leaders to meet and to start working on the details of a pro-investment Toledo Guarantee and on a new relationship between labor and business. By targeting this issue from the top down, we can create an economic boom in the Toledo area that can propel us far beyond other union-belt cities.

Once the right kind of guarantee has been decided upon and approved by the Toledo labor movement, it must be announced to the world with the most powerful public relations campaign this area has ever mounted.

Really, all I am proposing is that we take what is already happening at Jeep, GM Powertrain and other area companies and make it the rule, not the exception.

This is not an anti-union idea.

I know the Blade has been occasionally running these full-page editorials over the past year. I don't know if they have used this technique before last year. But I wonder what's wrong with the op-ed section of the paper? I didn't see the full page editorial last fall that was titled something like: China Has Changed...Can Toledo Change To Survive And Compete.

The Toledo Guarantee. So how long until the big meeting occurs?

I call on top area union and community leaders to meet and to start working on the details of a pro-investment Toledo Guarantee and on a new relationship between labor and business. By targeting this issue from the top down ...

Does room also exist for a bottom up approach?

  • Jan 15, 2004 CNN story Why 'Bottom Up' is on its way up - New style of business birthed by the Internet
  • Jan 15, 2004 Techdirt posting The Bottom Up Economy
  • 2007 book Wikinomics - Smart firms can harness collective capability and genius to spur innovation, growth, and success. Wikinomics challenges our most deeply-rooted assumptions about business and will prove indispensable to anyone who wants to understand the key forces driving competitiveness in the twenty-first century.

From the 2004 Techdirt posting:

When I was an undergraduate, I spent a lot of time studying negotiations and bargaining situations - often in situations where there was little to no trust between the parties. The end results of such negotiations always turned out to be much better when they opened up and weren't done in a "us vs. them" or top down manner.

However, it was very difficult to get over the hurdle of the "we're telling you how it is!" thought process to the "let's lay everything out on the table" process. Such a lesson doesn't apply only to direct bargaining situations, but almost any type of transaction between multiple parties. The more open the process is, the more likely everyone can come to a resolution that makes people happy.

This is starting to show up in many aspects of our lives, and even the folks over at Fortune have noticed the trend in our society to move to a "bottom up" world where participation and openness are expected and encouraged - rather than the top down method of someone making a final decision on how things will work.
created by jr on Aug 20, 2007 at 11:52:06 am
updated by jr on Aug 20, 2007 at 12:08:28 pm
    Comments: 2

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Comments ... #

I think Block is too quick to assume that his own troubles with unions are reflective of the area as a whole.

Our area is in decline because it was too heavily dependent upon manufacturing as a source of jobs and wealth. Large employers left in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s because they could find all sorts of cheaper costs in first the Sun Belt and then in foreign countries. Remember that cheap power is a big concern for industrial firms, and the federal government's decision to create subsidized power and development schemes like the Tennessee Valley Authority made the Deep South and the West attractive to industry. Rust Belt labor costs are but one component of a much larger trend by indistry to relocate to the Sun Belt.

Maybe cheap water will one day be our trump card to play.

And I find it interesting that Block claims his proposals are not "anti-union," but refers to the region commonly known as the Rust Belt as the "Union Belt." Methinks his bias shows through.

Union members have certainly benefitted from contracts that were based on conditions and wages with historical roots in healthier financial times, but to declare that "unions in Toledo do not allow profit comparable to what is possible in other places" is like blaming the unions for globalization.

Moroever, it is hypocritical for a guy like Allan Block - whose annual salary excluding perks was over $400K when I last checked - to take to task union members who seek just to preserve what wages and benefits they already have.

Finally, I humbly suggest that the keys to economic development and wealth for a region in a capitalist society are always Bottom Up - entrepreneurs with vision who take risks with investment decisions, and individual citizens who choose to spend and invest in local companies. Top Down economic development philosophies are more reminiscent of the planned economic policies of quasi-socialist regimes like China that Allan Block seems to idolize.

posted by historymike on Aug 20, 2007 at 02:31:19 pm     #  

From my prospective, For the City to rebound,we need to be concerned with the following.

1) Lower taxes.

It's simple econmics, for someone or something to locate in the city, they want a reason to do so. Lower taxes would be a good reason.

2) Keep Toledo City Officals from trying to run local businesses.

I see this from 2 fronts. One is the Costco issue that happened awhile back. Carty dragged out the process longer then is should've been. Granted Costco is get the location it wanted, but, how is Toledo going to be proceived by other companies wanted to locate into this city. The second is the "living wage" law. Once agian, this goes back to simple economics. "why would I locate my plant in a city that requirs me to pay $9.50/ hour when a plant in Hayseed Nebraska, I can pay $7.50 an hour."

3) Unions.

Good, Bad or indiffrent, unions are generally viewed as Antibusiness, so what we need to do here is either get rid of the Unions, or work with them to get the proception changed.

4) Schools.

This is an odd one for this city. We have TPS which is viewed as your typical innercity school and the problems that are with that. What I don't understand is that everyone is taking aim at TPS for being a bad school, but no one says anything about promoting the "other" school system in Toledo, Washington Local, which from my understandig, has a decent rateing. It's kinda useing one system against another, but since they are there, I say use them.

posted by drunkenwildmage on Aug 21, 2007 at 05:23:28 pm     #