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Published: Sunday, 7/11/2010

Branding Toledo sparks response

Last Sunday's column described the effort by local leaders to "brand" the Toledo region - to tell our community's story not only to potential employers and residents, but also to ourselves.

I asked you to share your thoughts about what Greater Toledo's brand should include, and how you would define the essence of our community and the foundation of its future.

As usual, you didn't disappoint me. Here are some excerpts from your responses:

"I have raised my family and spent my career in Toledo for the past 32 years. I have always talked positively of this city to outsiders.

"What makes Toledo unique is that our size offers big-city attractions and small-town advantages. You can drive anywhere in the area in 20 minutes or less. I look at the ethnic diversity of Toledo as a positive.

"What, then, is our downfall? We are entrenched in the past and slow to react proactively to changes. We cannot count on the auto industry to pave the way for our economy anymore. We need to honor what got us here, but also to be creative about what will make us successful in the next couple of years,

"How should Toledo be branded? Let's look forward and key on those industries, such as glass, that helped build Toledo and still have a strong heartbeat. Next, look at an area where we have the inside track for future growth, such as solar power.

"My entry: 'Toledo - Reflecting on a great city with a bright future."

- Kelly Seabold, Toledo

"Three variables stand out: education, distance, and religion.

"If you don't like Toledo's public schools, options exist in all kinds of parochial schools and several forms of private education. Toledo has all the services of bigger cities, such as water attractions, sports facilities, and museums. But they can be reached easily, because distances are much shorter. The church of your choice is also within easy reach.

Talk to other migrants and they will agree: Toledo has been a great place to raise their kids."

- Ed Nussel, Sylvania

"Toledo and Lucas and Wood counties are not blue-collar communities. The University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, and the medical communities are the number-one employers.

"This area has been an international innovator in solar and wind technology. Transportation by rail, air, and land is in place. Our arts, parks, and recreation are good.

"To get the message out, it needs repeating every day by the media, schools, and business: 'Toledo: The Home of Progress.' If you say it enough, people will begin to believe it and act like it."

- Barbara J. Baker, Ottawa Hills

"A serious brand might be: "Toledo - A city at the crossroads of innovation, education, culture, and industrious people."

"You might want to substitute 'arts' for 'culture.' I thought about other attributes, such as recreation or fresh water, but I like these because they illuminate what I consider to be our community's core qualities."

- Jerry Smolen, Holland

"Some treasures of Greater Toledo:

"Toledo Area Metroparks: the crown jewels - beautiful, well kept, enthusiastically used and supported by citizens. The Toledo Museum of Art: one of the finest art museums in the country.

"The Toledo Choral Society: beautiful voices raised in song. The Toledo Symphony Orchestra: presents a wide range of music."

- Jim Wagner, Sylvania

"While I live in Archbold, we are very much connected to the Toledo community. Branding for Greater Toledo should include entrepreneurial development."

- Frank Ulrich, Archbold

"In light of the intransigence of the municipal unions in Toledo's recent budget troubles that resulted in trivial concessions, the job action a day after a major step was taken to redevelop the Fiberglas Tower despite the bidder paying prevailing wages, and Toledo Public Schools unions giving back a measly 1 percent of pay instead of making real concessions to save more union jobs and not shortchange the students, I suggest the following: 'Come to Toledo - Run by the unions, for the unions'."

- Ben Lesniewski, Maumee

"Whether it is or isn't might be up for debate, but for Toledo to compete, it has to brand itself as a place of opportunity. We need to attract the type of people who are seeking the right opportunities that can make things happen."

- Matt Opperman, Toledo

David Kushma is editor of The Blade.

Contact him at: dkushma@theblade.com

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