Milliken on region's job losses and the economy

Good afternoon. Thanks for coming.

It's no secret Toledo's job situation is terrible at best, devastating at worst.

Families are being forced to make critical decisions in their household budgets. Social services and non-profits are being stretched to the limit. Struggle and survival are becoming the words of the day.

Toledo dropped to 99th out of 100 cities surveyed in the latest Bizjournals and Portfolio-dot-com job analysis.

In sheer numbers alone, the job losses in our community are simply devastating. Here are the facts:

Private sector job growth dropped 8.5% between 2008 and 2009.

Over that same period, Toledo lost 23, 400 jobs.

Unemployment stands at more than 14 %

Toledo's income growth-- down 33.5 %.

Commercial development in the Glass City is at a near standstill.

Simply put-- the policies of the past ARE NOT WORKING. They have failed miserably.

Most blame a bad national economy and our region's reliance on the auto industry.

I also blame politics.

For too long, the professional politicians in our community have fancied themselves as economic development professionals, too.

That mindset has the change.

Politicians instead need to get out of the way and let the real pros do the job.

We must eliminate needless rules, regulations, and red tape that are costing us investment, expansion, and job creation opportunities.

We must embrace pro-business strategies that make sense, such as economic gardening.

Instead, we must empower the private sector and our alphabet soup of development agencies to work cooperatively and do what they do best.

Eliminate, embrace, empower-- what I call the three E's.

Many of the other council candidates are telling voters that jobs are their top priority-- paying lip service to a concern over which they have little or no control.

The fact is, GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CREATE JOBS!

Elected officials can only foster an atmosphere friendly to job creation.

That said-- as a city councilman, I pledge to do the following:

* Work to eliminate costly and needless red tape and regulations;
* Promote the extensive and aggressive use of technology to make the process easier for permits, inspections, and paying taxes;
* Actively oppose any fee increases which place a further burden on new or existing businesses;
* Host quarterly business roundtables to directly listen to the concerns of business owners and industry associations;
* Hold those accountable for enforcing the terms of existing tax incentives, facade grants, and other city economic aid;
* Investigate and rectify reports of backlogs in water bills that are either holding up or killing commercial real estate deals; and
* Promote a wholesale attitude change in our community's approach to economic development.

I have spend a long journalism career asking the tough questions. As an independent city council member, I'll continue to do just that-- along with proposing common sense solutions.

I'll be happy to answer your questions.

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