TOLEDO — Ten site consultants from across the United States recently spent three days in northwest Ohio, according to the Toledo-based Regional Growth Partnership.
"Site consultants are key targets because they are often engaged by companies looking to expand operations," said Dean Monske, president and CEO of the Toledo-based economic development group. "It is critical that the RGP identify and build relationships with these decision makers."
RGP officials said it was the largest gathering of site consultants in the Toledo area.
During the visit, the site consultants took a helicopter tour of potential development sites in Lucas, Wood, Fulton, Putnam, and Van Wert counties.
They also heard from executives from some of the region's largest companies and met with representatives from JobsOhio, the nonprofit economic development corporation created by Gov. John Kasich.
Texas site consultant Dean Barber, in the Barberbiz blog that he writes (deanbarber.wordpress.com), said, "We learned that this was a small-town/big city with everything within a 20-minute drive."
Barber said Toledo's union legacy was "the biggest elephant in the room," but that the visit eased any fears about that.
"Yes, unions did at one time hold court here and could make life quite miserable for a company not willing to cooperate," Barber wrote. "But those times are gone. Today, most unions understand that they must cooperate with management if a company is to compete, much less survive."
The site consultant said he learned that "if a company pays a competitive wage and communicates with its workers, the chance of it getting a union today is quite remote."
Barber pointed out that Indiana and Michigan have recently passed right-to-work legislation, which might make those states more attractive to companies looking for a new location.
But he said the right-to-work advantage "is more perception than reality. ... I will advise a corporate client that the advantages to a right-to-work state are rather minuscule."