In a departure from soliciting firms at trade shows, the Toledo area's lead economic development agency is going after businesses in Michigan.
The plans to contact about 300 southeast Michigan companies to persuade them to look to northwest Ohio for future expansion. The campaign is to begin May 10.
Partnership officials insisted yesterday they won't try to steal existing jobs from Ohio's northern neighbor. "We're hoping our marketing gets us entry into the door." said Ed Schulte, vice president of the partnership.
The agency has budgeted $30,000 to pay for advertising and direct mailings to create an awareness of southeast Michigan, and then will contact companies selected from a profile of firms that may be ready for expansion. It hopes to arrange meetings with 30 companies, which would be considered a success, Mr. Schulte said.
Michigan officials said yesterday they aren't worried. "Obviously, having been here already, these companies know Michigan's strengths and what we have to offer," said Paul Krepps, a spokesman for the Lansing-based Michigan Economic Development Corp.
Jim Barrett, chief executive of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said he isn't concerned because Michigan and other states use such efforts all the time.However, when the Michigan Chamber said in 2000 that it planned a campaign "to bring Ohio jobs to Michigan," it set off a furor, in part because the business group was trying to grab away existing companies.
The chamber used an advertising campaign that attacked Ohio's more limited legal liability protections for businesses. The campaign was attacked as tasteless by Don Jakeway, then-head of the growth partnership who is now director of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. The growth partnership is emphasizing its efforts to retain businesses and to attract new ones, focusing on adding jobs from companies planning to grow.
The latest approach differs from past focus on soliciting firms at trade shows. So many development organizations attend the shows that it is difficult to stand out, so the approach has generated fewer job expansions, Mr. Schulte said. "The better approach is to be in front of the client, so let's go back and do that," he said.
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