It’s been a month since we learned Lima would become the home of state politics for a day Tuesday, and there hasn’t been much rest for the city’s leaders.
Lima Mayor David Berger joked Friday it was good thing organizers didn’t have more time to plan for Gov. John Kasich’s State of the State speech Tuesday night, as Kasich and his team might run out of steam and momentum.
“(State Rep.) Matt Huffman and I decided we needed to take the attitude we should just go ahead and do this right, and don’t wait until we were asked,” Berger said. “I think that’s proving to be a very good idea.”
On Tuesday, there are 40-plus meetings and tours planned. At Kasich’s urging, many of them include state cabinet members focusing with local officials on economic development.
While Kasich partially chose Lima because the city bounced back better than most after the recession, we all certainly can benefit from more jobs and opportunities here. It’s a bit early to hang a “Mission Accomplished” sign across the city’s entrances.
What Lima needs to do with its day in the limelight is keep its momentum going forward.
This community showed an amazing willingness to lay out the red carpet for state representatives, state senators and cabinet members coming to town to hear the governor’s annual address.
“It’s a sight to behold. It does your heart good to see people working together to make this happen,” Peggy Ehora said during the final planning meeting Friday, sharing the story of an attorney and artisan working side-by-side to clean up Memorial Hall on Elm Street for a Tuesday luncheon.
There’s really no comparison between what’s planned in Lima and Kasich's 2012 visit to Wells Academy in Steubenville, when the governor moved the annual speech out of the state capital for the first time in Ohio history. No insult to that city — there was no precedent — but there was little else planned that day.
This year, Lima’s bringing its message to Kasich and other state officials.
“This is an opportunity to welcome here a large number of people who frankly have never been to our city,” Berger said. “We want to show them our gracious hospitality and all the wonderful things we have to offer in this vibrant city.”
In the past weeks, we’ve seen downtown spruced up. New signs welcome you to parts of downtown. Volunteers spent part of Friday morning scrubbing windows along Main Street near the Civic Center. Street sweepers were out in force to spiffy up the roads after a typical Ohio winter. The Allen County Visionaries will have volunteers with purple armbands and, if necessary, customized umbrellas to welcome guests to Lima and show them where to go.
And we did it all without monetary contributions from the government, as donors brought the capital to make it happen.
If we put this much effort into one day, imagine what we could do with this kind of civic pride every day. It’s human nature to run down the city where you live and work, but some people make it an art form in Lima. It’s easy to think, because it’s the 11th largest metropolitan statistical area in Ohio, Lima must be a second-rate city.
When given the opportunity for a visit by the governor, we turned it into a daylong event showcasing the area’s businesses, facilities and government agencies to representatives from throughout the state.
We should take Tuesday to see the Lima our guests will see. We should take the energies of the past month and the associated civic pride and apply them toward making it an even better place to live and work.
Come Wednesday, everyone involved in this effort should take a well-deserved day of rest. Once that’s done, it’s time to help this city to get back to work, living up to its potential.