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.
Caucus members in attendance included:
- Laurie Adams – Managing Principal & Director of Traffic/Safety, DGL Ohio, Inc.
- Edgar Avila – Executive Vice President, AAA Northwest Ohio Region/AAA Club Alliance
- Will Burns – Administrator, NORED
- Frank Butwin – President, Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor
- Scott Cabauatan – Municipal Services Manager, Republic Services, Inc.
- Kerry Carte – Planning & Development Coordinator, WSOS CAC, Inc.
- Jennifer Carter-Cornell – Funding Practice Leader, Hull & Associates, Inc.
- Zane Daniels – Manager, Local Government Affairs, Columbia Gas of Ohio
- Traci Hernandez – Director of Marketing & Business Development, DGL Consulting Engineers, LLC
- Richard Hertzfeld – Engineer, CT Consultants, Inc.
- Dick Kudner – Vice President, Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor
- Paulette Mills – Client Relations Representative, Poggemeyer Design Group, Inc.
- Dennis McMickens – President & CEO, Safety Council of Northwest Ohio
- Kristine Patterson – Executive Director, Partners for Clean Streams, Inc.
- Hans Rosebrock – Manager, Economic Development & External Affairs, FirstEnergy/Toledo Edison
- Kathy Streng – Business Development, DLZ Ohio, Inc.
- Yvonne Thoma-Patton – Executive Director, Eastern Maumee Chamber of Commerce
- Keith Webb – Director, We Are Traffic
Non-caucus members in attendance included:
- Chris Amato – President, Historic South Initiatives
- Thomas Galloway – Vice Chair, Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association (NOPRA)
- Marjorie Mulcahy – LEF /ACLE
- Pat Wright – LEF/ACLE
TMACOG support staff in attendance included:
- Roger Streiffert – Transportation Planner
- Lisa Householder – Transportation Planner/Database Analyst
Introduction of Discussion Topics – The caucus members spent a majority of the meeting discussing topics including marketing in the region for tourism, promotion of natural assets amid water quality issues, and the importance of the Soo Locks to industries around the Great Lakes. Some commentary included:
· There are many opportunities to promote natural assets positively in the Northwest Ohio region. There are well known events, but there are also smaller scale/relatively unknown events that are a great opportunity for PR and should be promoted. Not everything is tied to the lake either. Some examples mentioned:
o The Toledo Zoo is reintroducing sturgeon to the lake via the Maumee River (breeding grounds).
o Birding is a huge draw in the spring in Ottawa County, draws a lot of tourist dollars. The actual events have only been around for about eight years, but it is a much bigger draw since more partnerships have been formed. People are coming here from international locations, but there could stand to be more promotion to the local population.
o Walleye run in the spring.
o National Train Day in May.
o Bike Month in May is a huge draw, and even brings people down from Michigan.
o Metroparks are expanding their trail system. TMACOG is trying to connect the Ohio and Michigan bicycle network.
o Jeep Fest has a lot of room to grow and showcases the history of Jeep being built in Toledo. It would be nice to have a permanent museum in place (year-round).
o Toledo bike share program will be starting soon.
o Fallen Timbers battleground, there is interest in marking this historic landmark a part of the National Park system.
· There needs to be a push to retain college students in our region after they graduate.
· Economics drivers can sometimes be overlooked with all of the attention to the environment.
· Once the process of the algae problem is dealt with so it isn’t as much of a threat every year, then this area can promote how the area has been improved (long way off). It will be a good marketing campaign to say there was a problem and we did something about it.
· There need to be more mobile apps to feature events and places of interest in our region.
· JobsOhio has ad campaigns similar to “Pure Michigan” but it needs better promotion.
· Tourism has a major tie to economic development and needs to be used to attract more businesses here.
· People’s viewing habits (related to television) have changed, so need to see more done on social media and mobile apps.
· Event planners and organizations needs to plan fun events tied to a more specific area, such as kayaking or bicycling, and reach out to markets further away (such as surrounding states). People are willing to travel far if it is tied to something specific they are interested in.
· Kayaking is one of the fastest growing recreational sports. Develop the Maumee River as a destination river for kayaking and tie into restaurants, breweries, bike trails, and other areas of interest near the river (again, a mobile app tying all of this together would be great for promotion of the region).
· Easy access to the river is critical to get people here. ODNR has an access book. If it is only a book, then there should be an app, too.
· There needs to be more cross marketing, it is currently too siloed. And need to reach out to markets further away.
· Economics behind it all is what really drives legislators to be involved.
· Another group to consider is AARP. They have mini grants available to promote smaller groups and events. They are also a great partner to bring to the table.
· Maumee Valley Heritage Corridor also has a user guide to help promote the area.
· What can we do as individuals and businesses to collaborate?
o DGL partners with local firms (their competitors) on many things, so we need that mentality here.
o It is important to get private companies involved, not just the local governments.
o Need to decide what organization will “own” the promotion of these events.
· Discussed a little bit about the importance and vulnerability of the Soo Locks in northern Michigan.
o Most of the steel products industry (automotive, machinery, etc.) on the Great Lakes relies on these locks for shipping. The Locks are getting old, so if something happens then industry will suffer.
o Soo Locks want to build a longer lock (in addition to other major upgrades) to accommodate long ships. Who should pay? Steel products industry? Shipping industry?
Generate Two Questions for the Panel Forum with State Lawmakers – Based on the above discussion, the non-governmental caucus members generated questions in preparation for the panel forum with state lawmakers:
1. What is the status of House Resolution 16 (the $1 billion bond to fund clean water initiatives)?
2. What opportunities are available towards tourism funding in Ohio? Are there any opportunities to collaborate with Michigan to promote tourism and natural assets in the western Lake Erie basin?
3. There are funds to clean up abandoned gas station tanks, but this doesn’t cover gas tanks at marinas (for the boats). Why is there no money in the budget for marina tanks?
Next Steps – There are groups that want to do more advertising and promotion for tourism in the region, but don’t have enough money. How can law makers facilitate money flowing to these smaller groups (in the form of grants) for marketing and event promotion? With TMACOG facilitation, look into how to encourage businesses to collaborate more on such endeavors.
· The Northwest Ohio Passenger Rail Association will be hosting their annual Rail Passenger Forum sometime in October. They are currently aiming for the 15th.
· Partner for Clean Streams is hosting their annual Water Quality Boat Cruise on August 5th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Registration information is on their website.
· We Are Traffic mentioned the 3-feet bicycle law in Ohio is now in effect. They are also working with nursing homes to give seniors bike rides with their Cycling Without Age program.
· AAA Northwest Ohio Region and The University of Toledo have teamed up for a speaker series on autonomous vehicles, called Technology Takes the Wheel. The next event in this series will take place on September 21st at UT’s main campus from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and will look at transportation infrastructure needs.
Adjourn – There was no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 10 a.m.
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