Changing the “R-Word” Mindset at the 2018 Site Selectors Guild

Apr 25, 2018 | News, Newsletter

David Mustine.
JobsOhio.

Late last month, hundreds of economic development influencers left Greater Cincinnati with a new mindset of the Cincinnati region, the state of Ohio and even the Midwest in general.

REDI Cincinnati had the honor of hosting the 2018 Site Selectors Guild (SSG) Conference. And in the spirit of the start of baseball season, I’d say they hit a home run. Held for the first time in Ohio, the SSG event attracted roughly 400 economic developers and site selection consultants from around the world. From a chartered streetcar, attendees got a top-notch tour of Cincinnati’s selling points, visiting the revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, touring the Cincinnati Music Hall and snapping a pass at Paul Brown Stadium.

I had the pleasure of speaking at the welcome dinner. Instead of sharing the usual talking points and statistics, my goal was to make everyone in that room, especially the 44 attending site selectors, drop the “R-word” – as in Rust Belt – from their vocabulary. This more than 30-year-old phrase is overused and, quite frankly, outdated. But unfortunately, a word like this carries a lot of power that can negatively influence a region for years. My questions to the audience were simple. Does the Rust Belt sound like a place you want to plant your company flag, invest your hard-earned capital or risk your reputation? Of course not. It is time that we retire this word. Let’s stop using it in our conversations and our content and when talking with the media.

America’s Midwest, of which Ohio is a leader, is a global powerhouse of competitiveness, efficiency and opportunity. Ohio competes every day against the world, and we win. Honda, Procter & Gamble, AK Steel, Kroger and many more companies made a choice to plant their flag here in our state.

In an interview with the Cincinnati Business Courier, Jerry Szatan, a founding member and past president of the Site Selectors Guild, admitted it had been more than a decade since he visited Cincinnati. He still pictured it as a traditional manufacturing city, but he came away with an entirely new opinion. “It just felt like a much livelier place, looking much more toward the future,” Szatan said. “Everybody I talked to was equally impressed.”

REDI Cincinnati and their corporate partners did an amazing job of providing an authentic experience for SSG attendees, many of whom will go back to their corners of the world and talk about the vibrant and growing city in Ohio they visited.  Now it’s also up to all of us public and private sector leaders to do the exact same thing and focus on the future, not the “R-word” that belongs in a museum.

In Memoriam – The Life of Dan Evers

I first met Dan in the fall of 2016.  I had moved to Central Ohio over the late holiday season in 2015 to begin serving as the new Director of GROW Licking County CIC, Dan’s former role.  I was immediately struck by many in the community who worried that I would “not be enough,” that the “shoes were too big,” and that “Dan was larger than life.”  And they were right. 

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OEDA 2022 Annual Excellence Awards – Call for Nominations

The Ohio Economic Development Association’s annual Excellence Awards program recognizes the achievements of individuals and organizations in Ohio in the areas of economic and workforce development.  Submit your nominations today and have excellence in your community recognized statewide!

A panel of judges will evaluate the nominations, determine finalists, and select a winner for each of the categories noted below.  Award winners will be announced in conjunction with the 2022 OEDA Annual Summit, being held October 3-6 at the Exchange at Bridge Park in Dublin, Ohio. 

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