Welcome and Introductions – Caucus facilitator Dennis McMickens, called the meeting to order.
Attendees included Laurie Adams (DGL Consulting Engineers), Meg Adams (FirstEnergy/Toledo Edison), Edgar Avila (AAA Northwest Ohio/AAA Club Alliance, Inc.), Jenny Carter-Cornell (Hull & Associates), Lu Cooke (State of Ohio, office of the Governor), Derek Dalton (Stantec Consulting), Zane Daniels (Columbia Gas of Ohio), Brian Dicken (Toledo Regional Chamber), Larry Gamble (Stantec Consulting), Sally Gladwell (The Mannik & Smith Group), Traci Hernandez (DGL Consulting Engineers), Diana Hersch (Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative), Lynn Jankowski (Civil & Environmental Consultants), Mike Jay (Regional Growth Partnership), Ben Kenny (WSOS Community Action), John Kusnier (Davey Resource Group), Nick Mandros (Ohio Environmental Council), Dennis McMickens (Safety Council of NW Ohio), Gilda Mitchell (TMACOG), Hans Rosebrock (FirstEnergy/Toledo Edison), Laura Saunders-Kowalec (Huntington Bank), Don Scherer (Green Energy Ohio), Joel Schlageter (First Federal Bank), Roberta Streiffert (WSOS Community Action), Yvonne Thoma-Patton (Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce), Julie Thomas (CT Consultants), Keith Webb (We Are Traffic), Homer Wilson (Jones & Henry Engineering), and Jerry Zielke (Paulding County Economic Development/NORED). TMACOG staff liaisons included Roger Streiffert and Lisa Householder.
I. Election of Representatives –Approval of the 2018 Board of Trustees for Non-Governmental members was held. A motion was approved unanimously. Members and Alternates for 2018 include the following:
· Meg Adams – FirstEnergy/Toledo Edison (Member)
· Diana Hersch – Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative (Member)
· Maura Johnson – Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor (Member)
· Mike Jay – Regional Growth Partnership (Member)
· Dennis McMickens – Safety Council of Northwest Ohio (Member)
· David Nunn – Eastman & Smith, Ltd. (Member)
· Gary Samples – Black Swamp Conservancy (Member)
· Laura Saunders-Kowalec – Huntington Bank (Member)
· Roberta Streiffert – WSOS CAC, Inc./OCAP (Member)
· Edgar Avila – AAA Northwest Ohio/AAA Club Alliance, Inc. (Member or Alternate)
· Edward Snyder – NORTA, Inc. (Member or Alternate)
· Jennifer Carter-Cornell – Hull & Associates, Inc. (Alternate)
· Edward Hoeffel – Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor (Alternate)
· Cindy Hurst – Lourdes University (Alternate)
· David Kuhn – Finch & Associates, Inc. (Alternate)
· Tiffany Whitlow – Safety Council of Northwest Ohio (Alternate)
· Ruth Ann House – WSOS CAC, Inc. (Alternate)
II. Discussion Topics – The caucus members spent a majority of the meeting discussing various discussion topics, including autonomous vehicles, business attraction and expansion, bitcoin mining, and opioid problems in the workforce. Some commentary included:
· Managing the impacts of autonomous vehicle introduction –
o Important to look at how the car companies are implementing safety as the technology develops;
o Autonomous vehicle technology is coming along very quickly and the Ohio Turnpike is quickly adapting to it. All vehicles manufactured since around 2008 have cameras on them;
o Parking garages will need to be retrofitted to accommodate more charging stations for electric vehicles;
o There is an annual event held in Traverse City, Michigan that addresses autonomous vehicles (CAR Management Briefing Seminars);
o Concerns of how these vehicles will handle poor driving conditions (ice, snow, etc.);
o Some of these vehicles could be road-worthy by 2019;
o AAA is actively working with car manufacturers, and most of their research is focusing on autonomous vehicle technology. One example is a yearlong pilot study with a shuttle bus in Las Vegas. Their research suggests there is a public shift in people becoming more confident in this technology and that fear is being alleviated;
o AAA is co-sponsoring an autonomous vehicle speaker series at the University of Toledo College of Engineering. The first event is February 7 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. and will provide an overview. A second event is scheduled for April 13 and will focus on cyber security (how to protect cars from hackers), and future topics and dates will be announced;
o This technology should result in a substantial decline in costs related to traffic crashes due to loss of work time, delays (freight related), damaged property, etc.
o NW Ohio needs to be preparing for this – how is this being done? How are we preparing roads? How are we getting funding? How can we move this forward? NW Ohio should be leader as this technology develops further;
o City of Toledo is working on a traffic study for the downtown area and will be addressing autonomous vehicles;
o Smart corridor testing sites are near our area – one in Marysville, Ohio and one in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
o Toledo Regional Chamber has a good presentation relating to much of this topic.
· Business attraction, retention, and expansion –
o Business expansion is occurring in our region, which means businesses are staying;
o Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative covers a ten-county area and is seeing a lot of expansion, much of which is being facilitated by economic development. They have information to share regarding services for business expansion;
o First Energy works on a lot of projects to attract business to our area, teams up with RGP and JobsOhio for many of them. It is very competitive both nationally and internationally;
o NORED is seeing a lot of positive things so far in 2018. There is a lot of equipment expansion in our area. For example, in Paulding County alone there has been $220 million in capital investments. More equipment is being automated but this is still leading to additional jobs. Food technologies are really growing in our region.
o Concerns for this topic – workforce numbers and amount of available housing. We need to look at how to attract people to our region and what needs to be built. As well, look at how to retain college students attending schools in our region;
o Alternative transportation (mass transit and bicycle facilities) should be used as a tool to attract businesses;
o Communities need to be pro-business and pro-expansion, need cooperation/support of local government officials. Coordinate all resources within a community to make it attractive and provide incentives (doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary);
o Site consultants tend to look at the negatives of a proposed area in order to use the process of elimination when selecting a site. Some key things they look at are quality of life, alternative transportation options, infrastructure conditions, cost of doing business, good workforce (and enough people to work), and housing availability.
· Bitcoin mining operations –
o Bitcoin is a new form of digital currency (cryptocurrency). “Mining” of this currency involves a special computer software that solves mathematical algorithms and issues a currency in exchange. This operation uses a massive amount of power to run and is a frivolous use of energy. Are environmental groups aware of this?
· Opioid problems on the workforce –
o The opioid epidemic is a huge strain on the area workforce;
o The Safety Council of NW Ohio addresses overdoses in its CPR training sessions. It is important to have someone on staff that is qualified to recognize these symptoms. If someone is showing signs of overdose then it is best to contact 911 and have them administer Narcan. Keep their heart going and keep them breathing until the EMS can get there;
o Addiction for many starts in the hospital while being treated for pain, such as post-surgery.
o This epidemic is impacting the workforce since most businesses are having trouble finding workers that are drug-free. At one large company, roughly 70% of potential workers failed their drug test. It recognizes that drug screenings are costing more money than new employee training;
o The employee may not be addicted to drugs, but if a family member is then there can be lost time due to them needing to take care of that individual;
o Some companies are now being more lenient on drug testing or forgoing it altogether.
· Next steps –
o Caucus members requested that TMACOG develop a working group on autonomous vehicles;
o TMACOG will distribute information discussed in today’s caucus:
§ AAA autonomous vehicle speaker event at UT on February 7
§ Autonomous vehicle presentation from Toledo Regional Chamber
§ Information from Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative regarding services available for business expansion.
III. 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. Staff can also create maps, collect traffic counts, coordinate events, etc that is a benefit of being a TMACOG member.
IV. There was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 a.m.
Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments | www.tmacog.org