Saying movement is necessary or plans for a proposed Northwest Ohio Science and Technology Corridor could die, the University of Toledo trustees yesterday asked Medical University of Ohio trustees to be a partner in the project.
"If we wait for this to be led by another, it's never going to happen. The core of this concept lies with these two institutions," said Dan Brennan, chairman of the UT trustees.
The comments were made during an unprecedented joint meeting of the two universities' boards, during which the trustees discussed and asked questions about UT President Dan Johnson's proposal to link area universities and assets to attract technology, research, and jobs.
The corridor would include
UT, MUO, Owens Community College, and Bowling Green State University as well as industries and businesses, and ultimately could extend to outlying communities, such as Sandusky and Findlay.
The concept focuses on a "people-mover" system that would connect some of the corridor.
Mr. Johnson gave a new presentation about the corridor, and he talked up the issue of a "knowledge economy," something that refers to research universities working together in the global marketplace.
He also promoted the impact it would have on quality-of-life issues in neighborhoods.
"We here in Toledo and northwest Ohio, we are not players in the knowledge economy," Mr. Johnson said. "This is surprising, and it's even tragic."
The president's proposal has been discussed for several years, and many expressed concerns during the meeting that it might languish unless leaders get behind it.
UT Trustee Rick Stansley said that while everyone's been positive in talking about the corridor, that alone "won't get the job done."
"It really takes commitment and action," he said.
George Chapman, chairman of MUO's trustees, opened the meeting with strong remarks about Toledo taking charge of its own future.
"It's time that we remove this sort of silo-type mentality in Toledo," he said, noting that local leaders shouldn't rely on those in Columbus or "old-boy networks" to solve problems.
After listening to the UT trustees' pitch for MUO to get involved, Mr. Chapman said his board would need to take up the matter in its own forum, which he said would occur at its next meeting on Jan. 23.
Afterward, Mr. Johnson and MUO President Lloyd Jacobs both said they were hopeful MUO will play a role in the corridor.
The two presidents this week signed an unusual agreement to create a joint governmental relations office to be shared among the institutions for the next year.
While no exact details or price tags were discussed pertaining to the institutions' roles in the corridor, Mr. Johnson told trustees it would require multiple financial sources.
Afterward, Dr. Jacobs noted that funding will be crucial to the proposal's future.
"Sooner or later, someone's going to have to come up with some money," Dr. Jacobs said. "Ultimately, that's going to be the issue that brings this from a concept to a reality."