Toledo mayoral candidate Wade Kapszukiewicz said this week that the city’s leaders should attempt to partner with Detroit in a bid to convince Amazon.com to build its second headquarters in this region.
Toledo alone cannot come close to matching Amazon’s stated requirements — a metropolitan area of more than 1 million people, an advanced mass transit system, an international airport, and great research universities.
However, Toledo could join in a joint bid with Detroit, Windsor, and Ann Arbor. The four cities together would provide major interstates, a port, an international airport, a high quality of life, and cheap real estate for the Amazon employees. The region could also offer the brainpower from several major universities, most notably the University of Michigan.
Surprisingly, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson’s office responded by saying the city is planning its own bid, one that will be submitted in the next couple of weeks.
This was surprising because it is the first that anyone has heard of a Toledo bid in a competition that has been called the “Olympics of the corporate world.”
Any type of Olympic bid requires a massive and concerted effort from the city government and local corporate leaders bidding. Detroit has been engaged in such an effort for weeks, in pursuit of Amazon. No such effort is under way, or has even been begun, by the city of Toledo.
On Monday afternoon, Calvin Lawshe, Toledo’s economic development director, told The Blade’s editorial board that he will be placing a call to Detroit to gauge the city’s interest in a partnership. It’s more than a little late.
So, at best, the Hicks-Hudson administration is being naive and amateurish when it assures us it is “on” the Amazon matter. And, at worst, it is being disingenuous.
As Mr. Kapszukiewicz pointed out, Toledo has nothing to lose by attempting to join a Detroit bid. It would be a long shot. But it would prepare us for the next opportunity. Being prepared would make that bid less of a long shot.
We have to think big if we are to progress. We must not be afraid to try bold new initiatives. And we must not be so sleepy that we do not even think to try.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz noted that, more than 100 years ago, Robert and Frank Stranahan moved their business — Champion Spark Plug — from Boston to Toledo. The brothers could have picked any city in the country, but they picked Toledo. Those were the days of miracles and wonders. Those are the days we must recreate.