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Toledo slips further in Forbes magazine ranking

City 2nd to last in Ohio on Forbes list

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Forbes' 2012 Best Places for Business and Careers, which takes the cost of operating a business, job growth, education, and population into account, ranked Toledo 182nd among metro areas nationwide.

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Toledo placed near the bottom of a new list by Forbes magazine ranking the top cities to do business and start one's career. It finished ahead of only Youngstown in a comparison of Ohio cities.

Forbes' 2012 Best Places for Business and Careers, which takes the cost of operating a business, job growth, education, and population into account, included eight cities in Ohio in its list of 200 of the nation's largest metropolitan areas.

Toledo ranked 182nd in the latest list, released at the end of last month. In 2011, the city ranked 178th, down from 169th in 2010 and 150th in 2009.

The city's best showing was in 2003 when it ranked 140th.

"It's such a disappointing ranking," said Sonny Ariss, a professor and chairman of the department of management in the college of business at the University of Toledo. "This is the Midwest and Toledo, and as you know, we are connected to the automotive industry, and we are a part of the Rust Belt, and the only way to get around it is to grow ourselves out of the old economy."

Mr. Ariss said the only way Toledo can improve its ranking is by diversifying its industries and moving away from the automotive sector. An emphasis should be placed on green technologies and other start-ups, he said.

"In this day and age, you cannot attract a company from out of state. You want to help the companies you have grow," Mr. Ariss said. "Any company who is considering getting out of where they are, the state or the government or the city will try their best to keep them where they are. We cannot count on the relocation of companies."

Toledo already is doing some of those things and has laid the foundation to grow its start-up and green companies, said Bill Wersell, vice president of business development at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"We dropped considerably in those rankings in 2009 and 2008. Some of those rankings have to go up: I can't see how they can stay static like that," he said, adding that the automotive sector is rebounding.

Auto-parts suppliers have found ways around the downtrodden economy by manufacturing parts for appliance manufacturers, Mr. Wersell said.

Although automakers are making a comeback, the suppliers have an added guard against future economic troubles because they diversified, he said.

"Those commodities are replaceable much faster than automobiles are," he said. "When we can get into more of a commodity market like that, we will be doing fine," he added.

Columbus was the highest-ranked Ohio city, at 24. After that, the list of Ohio cities plunged to 104th, where Cincinnati was ranked.

Other Ohio cities on the list were Akron, 129th; Cleveland, 141st; Canton, 148th; Dayton, 180th, and Youngs-town, 185th.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.

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