A few thoughts on this topic:
1.) Toledo must get over its "Jeep addiction"...meaning politicians will bend over (front and backwards) and give Jeep/Chrysler/Fiat anything they want to keep that plant in Toledo. In the meantime, any NEW business that may want to open here, they openly salivate at the thought of how much they can tax that business. This is a "business-friendly" environment where companies will flock? Please...
Attract new businesses by offering real incentives, not political ploys. You may not get all the taxes you want from the "business", but there would be at least more people paying that precious local income tax that voters seem so enamored of approving every few years. Oh, and stop making scumbag deals with developers who promise much and seemingly deliver little (still waiting on that big "Southwyck development" deal to come through).
2.) Toledo has huge safety issues, both in reality and perception and its killing any recovery spurred by business investment. My mother is still talking about the guy who was killed with a brick in the OWE by that 15 year old. What about the other kid who openly raped someone a few months back? Thanks to the internet, these stories were national news. Think people & businesses will be flocking to our fair area with that kind of PR?
The Franklin Park Mall incident is a real shock for people who don't frequent it much anymore because that mall sits right in the middle of what used to be a "nice" area. It was a treat to go to FPM when I was a kid (we lived in the South End). Now, people are getting held up at their cars in the parking lot while wanna-be thugs roam the interior.
All this is happening while the city continues to cut back on police and other safety personnel. People haven't been moving to the suburbs just because of economics--its a matter of shielding themselves from the expansion of crime in the city. And you can't blame people for voting with their feet "Get me away from here."
3.) Wages/unions/etc.: It isn't completely the high "union" wages of current labor that is driving costs; it is the legacy costs of retired personnel that is crippling the city...and older companies in general. Pension plans with full health coverage (with little to no copay) are strangling budgets across the country. When these deals were made, the actuaries were not calcualting a ton of people living well into their 80's and 90's.
I don't know what to do about this--people were promised things 30-40 years ago and I generally feel we should live up to that bargain. They planned their lives around terms of that agreement. However, that should not automatically mean someone who starts tomorrow gets the same deal. It is unsustainable.
4.) Downtown: It is correct that no city is entitled to a vibrant downtown; however, without one we appear to the world as a dead city. I actually supported moving the sports teams downtown--at least that brings people into the area and helps.
What would also help is if we could assess downtown realistically. It is NOT premium retail real estate, nor is it premium office real estate. How many empty floors of skyscrapers do we have downtown? Empty buildings (hello, Fort Industry Square)? How about decent name brand hotels? In any normal economic sense, there is a glut of available space for start-up businesses to have a great, spacious place to work, but apparently its better to have empty buildings rather than cutting deals to get people IN those buildings. Toledo has good technical and transportation infrastructure--but somehow the rents stay sky high and we cant get people to start businesses in our hub area?
I would love to hear your thoughts on these matters as this thread continues.