Call to Order/Welcome/Introductions – The meeting was held on August 5, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 1106 at Penta Career Center, 9301 Buck Road, Perrysburg, Ohio 43551. Dennis McMickens, President & CEO of the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio and facilitator for the Non-governmental Members Caucus, called the meeting to order and welcomed everyone present. Introductions were made by everyone present.
TMACOG members who were in attendance included:
- Kent Bryan – Regional Manager, CT Consultants, Inc.
- Jessica Chapman – Career Coach, JobsOhio Region 2 Ready to Work Program, WSOS CAC, Inc.
- Brian Dicken – Vice President, Public Affairs, Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce
- Bob Doyle – Doyle Group
- Tom Galloway – Political Advisor, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET)/ Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association (NOPRA)
- Cindy Hurst – Dir. of Corporate, Foundation & Government Relations, Lourdes University
- John Iacoangeli – Principal, Beckett & Raeder, Inc.
- Dennis McMickens – President & CEO, Safety Council of Northwest Ohio
- Lindsey Myers – Executive Director, Oregon Economic Development Foundation
- Tim Porter – Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association (NOPRA)
- Laura Saunders-Kowalec – V.P./Govt. Banking Relationship Manager, Huntington Bank
- Lauren Schubach – Workforce Development Assistant Director, WSOS CAC, Inc.
- Kathy Streng – Business Development Coordinator, DLZ Ohio, Inc.
- William Teaderman - Citizen
- Christopher Wyche – Director-External Affairs, AT&T Ohio
TMACOG support staff that was present included:
- Roger Streiffert – Transportation Planner II
- Lisa Householder – Transportation Planner/Database Analyst
- Michael Fuller - Transportation Planner I
Introduction of Discussion Topics: The regional water quality issue and its effect on economic development – Caucus members spent a majority of the meeting discussing the topic of water quality as it relates to economic development and the perceived image of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Some commentary included:
· Based on past experience with the algae in Grand Lake St. Mary’s, Ohio, it was noted the State of Ohio needs to put more money towards the issue of water quality. There are solutions but they are costly.
· There aren’t enough people in our region involved in the field of water quality testing and clean up practices. It is a good career and people are needed in these positions. WSOS is teaming up with the Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) to provide training to prepare the workforce for this role.
· Key stakeholders in our region are taking this issue seriously. Once it is cleaned up, however, we need to determine how to keep it cleaned up.
· This algae issue casts an ill-perceived light on our region because it is constantly in the newspapers, on television, and other social media. Politicians are constantly talking about it, as well there are many pictures of beakers filled with green water that many people think the situation is worse than it actually is. We need someone to take over PR for the issue to get accurate information out to the public and stop the association of Toledo having bad water. Could the tourism board for the State help repair northern Ohio’s reputation (similar to the “Pure Michigan” ad campaign)?
· How can we turn the algae issue into a positive? There was a news report out that some group is interested in harvesting the algae to use for farm animal feed as it is high in protein. This group is having a difficult time raising the money to do this, however. It will take a long time to clean up the algae, so this region needs to do something like harvesting today. Bottom line, removing the algae comes at a cost, but it can be turned into revenue.
· Industry leaders know we can treat the problem, but it’s the public perception that’s really the problem due to a lot of misinformation being spread. Many in the public don’t understand the science of the issue, so education is important. Additionally, blame cannot be solely placed on the farming community as there are many causes for the algae growth (such as fertilized lawns, as well as some shower/bath products may contain phosphorus).
· Merely researching the issue has taken too much time, it is now time to execute a plan and try out some solutions while continuing to research the issue, as necessary. This region needs to start trying different ways to clean up the problem now.
· Many universities are researching this issue independently but how are they collaborating on their findings? Where is the opportunity to eliminate this problem and where are the results?
Questions for the Forum with State Lawmakers – Based on the above discussion, Non-governmental Caucus members generated the following questions in preparation for the Forum with State Lawmakers.
1. Has anyone considered harvesting and finding a use for the algae in Lake Erie? What other solutions have been determined?
2. How do we repair the reputation of our region with the algae issue making national news (including pictures of green water in beakers)? How long will it take to resolve? How can you attract business and industry to this area when you have this major quality of life issue? What do you say to someone who could potentially locate here but won’t because of our questionable water quality?
3. Research on the algal blooms and water quality has been underway for a long period of time. How much longer will we be researching the issue and when will we start to see solutions? When will the research turn into results? Also, who is collaborating between the various universities that are researching this issue?
TMACOG Committees and Membership Benefits – TMACOG staff discussed the various benefits of being a TMACOG member. Staff reviewed the council and committee structure and stressed that anyone may attend and be involved in these meetings. The Annual Work Program product for Transportation Service was also discussed informing members that staff can create maps, collect traffic counts, coordinate events, etc., that is a benefit of being a TMACOG member.
Any and All Other Business – No further business was discussed. The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 a.m.
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