Ohio Wants to Shed Rust Belt Image

Ohio factory redevelopment

With significant advances in education, health care, technology and other industries, Ohio Governor John Kasich recently announced that its time for Ohio to shed its “rust belt” image. “We are no longer the rust belt; we live in the knowledge belt,” he said.

The term “rust belt” was coined back in the late 20th century when Ohio’s economy was mostly reliant on manufacturing. When manufacturing dried up in Ohio, as it did in much of the country, the state sought a more diversified economy. And today, the state is no longer reliant on a single industry. Some of the major industries that have popped up in Ohio include automotive, which is boosted by easy access to rubber, steel, and glass. There’s also a thriving agricultural industry, which contributed $105 billion of Ohio’s total economic output of $898.7 billion in 2010, according to PolitiFact. And then we have the aerospace industry which produces a yearly economic impact of over $8 billion, according to hiVelocity.

Furthermore, Governor Kasich believes that “Knowledge Belt” is more reflective of the current economic reality in the region. Capitalizing on some of the highest ranking educational institutions in the nation that are graduating some of the best and brightest has led to the significant growth in knowledge-based industries that are now the cornerstone of Ohio’s thriving economy. Ohio is an innovative leader in health care, with Cleveland Clinic, as an example. And the state has invested heavily in technology and is on the forefront in a variety of research projects, including with autonomous vehicle research. The list goes on and on.

Also, many of the old abandoned warehouses and factories have been renovated and converted into residential units, office buildings and other uses. The old Joseph & Weiss garment factory in Cleveland will be full of life again when its renovation as a public charter school for gifted children is complete in time for the 2017-18 academic year.
“However, erasing the old image may not be an easy task. Former governor Ted Strickland and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown attempted to rebrand the state as “the Silicone Valley on alternative energy” but it didn’t stick,” mentioned Victor Bierman III, Ohio lawyer and business expert.

The good news is a number of states have been in a similar situation and successfully rebranded. Las Vegas, for example, gave the label “Sin City” a new meaning with the now infamous tag line “what happens here, stays here”. Ohio can also do the same by embracing its manufacturing legacy and building on a new future as the “knowledge belt”.

Image  Credit: ODSA

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