Category Archives: NORED

NORED Ignite Session

I did my Design & Economic Development talk at the NORED Ignite session (PDF agenda) and think it went fine. I covered most of my main points, did not babble too much, got a few laughs, and was within 5 seconds of the 5 minute requirement. This is just a start, so time will tell if this was worthwhile.

The best part for me was finding connections with the other talks. The talks were not coordinated ahead of time, but I heard about examples of design being applied and cases where the design community could be supported.

Kay Reiter of Sandusky County EDC presented Project Ole, where plastics industry companies in Mexico have been targeted about re-locating. A Toledo Business Journal article explains it a little, including showing the box that was mailed. They worked with Hart to develop a touch point model that includes the microsite

Tony Iriti of Hancock County ED showed the power of architectural design concepts in communicating the vision for keeping Marathon in Findlay.

Ford Weber of Lucas County EDC talked about coworking, one support structure for a design community. We have Seed and the UT incubator space, but we need more coworking, across the region.

Design and Economic Development

I am doing a 3-slide, 5-minute talk at the NORED Ignite “Turn a Spark into a Fire” event on July 10th (PDF).

My topic is “Design and Economic Development”. My slides with speaker notes of the rough things I might say (PDF). I hope to cover:

  • What is design (in 3 contexts), how it matters in today’s economy
  • Designing touch points with regional economic development audiences
  • Using design to improve the Toledo region economy

Hopefully it will trigger a discussion about how design can impact our regional economic development efforts.

Manufacturing Forum

On Friday, February 7th, I attend the Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Forum. This flyer (PDF) and an OMI page describe the program. The New Manufacturing Economy is a key part of the regional brand message, so that means I need to better understand what potential and current manufacturers need.

I tweeted from the event with hasthtag #nwomfg. This recap repeats a few of those tweets and includes some additional thoughts.

Ford Weber of NORED kicked off the forum

Introductions from NORED, Ohio MEP and CIFT were given. The Ohio Manufacturer’s Association was another sponsor/organizer.

Jim West talked about what he does for Boeing and the history of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership

It was nice to hear some familiar terms from Dr. West, such as human factors, IBM, and ACM/information technology.

Tony Iriti talked about workforce development

Workforce development is a hot topic, part of my talent trio: attraction, retention and development.

Mark Birnbrich talked about

Lots of interesting user experience aspects of were presented. It was hard to tell how usable the screens were (some still under construction), but the features mentioned sounded impressive. I found it interesting that user experience aspects like branding and business processes are being baked into legislation:

  • House Bill 1: Require a local workforce investment area to use OhioMeansJobs as the local workforce investment area’s job placement system, to rename county one-stop systems.
  • House Bill 2: require an unemployment compensation claimant to register with OhioMeansJobs, require a claimant to contact a local one-stop office beginning with the eighth week

From what I can tell, however, a certain level of usability is not part of the legislation. That is, the law requires users to do certain tasks with the web site, but it does not explicitly set benchmarks or criteria to make sure users can indeed perform those tasks. In a business setting, stating those metrics and making sure they are met would be crucial.

Rick Spivey talked about his work with the Ohio Manufacturing Institute

I found it interesting how Rich was assigned from Honda to share his expertise at an academic institution. He presented a fascinating analysis of the manufacturing ecosystem (that I will need to study more to understand). I nodded my head when he talked about the need to organize information by production processes (across industries) because that is how manufacturers work. I chuckled when he showed the information architecture of the future Ohio Technical Network web site (even though he did not call it the site IA).

nored-mfg-portmanSenator Rob Portman presented 5 things he is focused on to create an environment for economic success

The Sentinel-Tribune article “Senator Portman down to business” is a better recap of his talk than I can provide.

Overall, I am glad that I went. Still lots more for me to learn about how manufacturing works. If I can get my hands on the slides, then I will add them here, and be able to learn more.

There are a few things that sort of bugged me about the forum, though. I think the name should be Toledo Region Manufacturing Forum and include more of our Michigan colleagues. Also, I think “New Manufacturing Economy” should be explicitly discussed. “Advanced manufacturing” was a common theme, but if we want the region to be the heart of the new manufacturing economy, then we need to be talking about it ourselves, and showing the world that we not only know what it means, we are making it happen.

October 2013 activites

I started attending more economic development and planning events in October.

First, it was the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority‘s Annual Update to the Community on October 10th. The Blade and Free Press covered it. One insight on how ED works: site selectors are more like site eliminators.

Next, it was the 2013 Northwest Ohio Planning & Zoning Workshop on October 25th. I acted as the event photographer. Some of the more interesting things from the all-day event:

  • The Toledo Area Partnership Project did a form of user research to get insights into what senior citizens and the disabled need from public transportation. Design charrettes with stakeholders were used to plan the Downtown Transit Hub. Nice to hear about “physical world” methods that match the digital world.
  • Several different “economic development” vs. “planning” debates broke out. “Jobs” vs. “quality of life”. The traditional model is that people get a job first and move there to live, so creating jobs what you should focus on. I heard stories where today more young people are first selecting where they want to live and economic prosperity follows. For example, if enough young people start living in a downtown area, the businesses pop up to support them. We heard a story of a couple that moved to Oregon (the state) then later found jobs there. Attract talent and the jobs will follow. Of course, both matter and are related, but it was good to see some emotional debate.

The best session of the day was Jeff Schaaf, the Toledo Region Brand manager. (I am biased about the best session because I invited Jeff to present.) A few notes:

  • The role of Michigan counties came up right away. Since there is funding from the state of Ohio, the counties that border Ohio are not “primary” counties in the region, but they are still included in the region storytelling
  • Regional entrepreneurs have been a primary target audience of the branding efforts, but attracting talent (especially by featuring quality of life aspects) is becoming more important.
  • The website and the Facebook page are still some of the biggest accomplishments. Brochures and images for groups to use in their marketing efforts are some more things they have produced.
  • North design is working on the next phase of the branding efforts.
  • Several audience members commended the efforts and cited examples where it has helped them. Naming the Toledo Region Transportation Coalition legislative agenda was one example.
  • Getting residents to feel and talk better about the region was also cited as an important part of the branding efforts (even though it was not really in the original scope years ago).

I am looking forward to the next phase of the branding work.

My third event of the month was the NORED Showcase on October 30th. It was a fun way to learn about counties and cities in the region. Economic development leaders compiled facts and stories about their part of the region and paraded around the room dressed in ways that represented what made them special. Several featured their manufacturing leaders: Fremont/Heinz ketchup, Clyde/Whirlpool, Bryan/Spangler Candy. There were also popular culture references like Muddy & Madonna, Klinger and Sam Hornish.


The stories compiled for the showcase will be used in the Toledo region branding effort. More content, to tell more and richer stories about the region!

It was my first NORED event: I was never able to make to their previous meetings and conferences. I will try harder to attend their next one.