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Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 8/17/2003

City outlook dishes out something to chew on

Some items while promising never to take electricity for granted again (well, at least for the next month, anyway):

CHANGING TIMES: Back in the day when manufacturing jobs fueled Toledo's economy, many of us looked for the union label. Being a “factory town” had its advantages.

The sector's Golden Age was in the early 1980s, when manufacturing jobs in Toledo peaked at nearly 78,000. (By 2002, the number had dropped to 52,700 -- and that figure included Lucas, Wood, and Fulton counties.) After the glitter faded, we became a charter member of the Rust Belt.

In recent years, there has been a push for the creation of high-tech jobs. Ohio Gov. Bob Taft made it an integral part of his re-election campaign. I remember Carty Finkbeiner, in his final term as mayor, trying to cajole us into changing our way of thinking in terms of business recruitment. The transformation is going to take years, but at least we've started down that path.

While a “manufacturing economy” is our past and a “high-tech economy” is our future, one gets the feeling that Toledo is counting on a “restaurant economy” to bridge the gap between eras.

I can think of two instances in recent months where a fast-food eatery was given Fortune 500-like treatment.

First, on April 28, The Blade's newsroom received a fax, on City of Toledo letterhead, that trumpeted “South Toledo's newest economic development project.”

OK, I'm interested. Then I read the first sentence of the news release.

Councilman Bob McCloskey will be attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the new McDonald's restaurant that will be built in South Toledo.

That's right, a new McDonald's. Good news, folks: It opened earlier this month.

(Of course, what the news release didn't say is that the new McDonald's, located at the corner of Broadway and South streets, is just a few blocks from another McDonald's, which has since closed. Aren't “economic development projects” supposed to result in a net increase in jobs?)

Second, on Tuesday this newspaper ran a story with the following headline: 60 jobs at Toledo restaurant draw 560 hopefuls.

For every job available at the first White Castle in Toledo, there were 9.3 applicants. The chain is paying $8 an hour locally.

Nothing against White Castle, but what's going on here? I would hope that red flags have been raised throughout One Government Center.

When it comes to restaurants per-capita, Toledo is a world-class city. I guess “thinking big” today pertains to our stomachs (hey, I'm already there), not recruiting companies that will bring skilled jobs to the area.

TWIN PACK: Two slanted questions this week. In an attempt to raise awareness of Toledo's unemployment rate, I'm offering 11.3 points for each correct answer.

1) In light of Thursday's massive power outage, which paralyzed the affected areas, shouldn't Toledo adopt a “whatever it takes” attitude about fixing its water-main system, which is a regional catastrophe waiting to happen?

2) Inspired by a joke from HBO's Bill Maher: Between trying to impeach Bill Clinton, Florida in 2000, and the recall in California, doesn't it seem that Republicans will do anything to win an election -- except get the most votes?



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