Pom poms and economic growth

Have you seen the newspaper and internet headlines making waves in the past few weeks? No, I am not talking about Caitlyn Jenner and the “transformation” or Bush vs. Clinton — “The Battle Continues.”

A few weeks back, Gov. Kasich and the JobsOhio team announced a major addition to the Ohio family of commerce – Amazon, the trailblazing online giant, will be bringing 1,000 jobs and the promise of a continued upswing in the resurgence of the Buckeye state with their business.

This celebratory news is a boon to the state’s economy and in particular to central Ohio with one report noting these one thousand jobs will average nearly $80,000 a year. Our friends in Dublin, Hilliard and New Albany will benefit greatly from Amazon setting up shop in their backyard.

But, I couldn’t help but mute my enthusiasm for this economic “get” when I thought to myself how much of a “get” it would have been for something like Amazon to come to Wilmington. The AirPark, a motivated and able workforce, an hour drive to three major metropolitan areas, and steadfast public officials dedicated to economic development – what’s not to love?

Can you imagine the complete transformation that would take place in Clinton and Highland counties (heck, even Fayette County) if 1,000 jobs making an average of $80K a year were to open in the coming months? The prospects of an entire community, an entire county, an entire region would change dramatically.

When we hear of jobs being created in the state they are generally around Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, and the large urban areas of Ohio. One can’t help but wonder why the small towns and rural places in the state seem to be left out of the major growth. We are growing, jobs are coming, but it feels like a small trickle rather than steady stream.

Luckily we have some of the best and most capable officials and public servants here in Clinton and Highland counties who are working their magic daily to see to it that we get our piece of the economic pie here in the hinterlands.

When I was in high school – believe it or not – I was the school mascot. Our mascot was a Viking and I wore this faux bear fur outfit, a long blond braided wig, a horned helmet, and carried a plastic club. As a senior I was awarded “Most School Spirit” because I relished in the idea of helping to motivate and excite people for our school.

As a freshman in college, I lost a bet. The wager included the provision that the loser had to wear a female Ohio State cheerleader outfit to the OSU vs. *ichigan game. Since I am a man of my word I upheld my end of the bargain even though it was below freezing and it snowed. Two years later I was elected to serve as the president of the spirit organization – the largest organization on campus – because of my gusto, spirit and the way my legs looked in that outfit.

Why do I reveal rather embarrassing stories – especially the latter – when talking about economic growth? Because in addition to an understanding of economics and business, being able to woe, wine and dine CEOs, crafting tax and real estate deals, one of the most important aspects of economic development is being able to motivate and excite potential suitors to choose your homeland over others.

It may even be more important to motivate and excite your neighbors about your own community again – pride in your community is important to growth and important to the overall health of a community.

Economic development is a multi-faceted process that includes being a pom pom carrying cheerleader for your community. That is not a statement I make to diminish the job of economic growth and development, but a statement of fact.

The people working to see to it that we have growth in our community are doing unbelievable work each and every day in promoting our community, building relationships, and creating an atmosphere that will bring us back from the darkness of our economic past.

However, we can’t expect our officials to do all the heavy lifting. We have to be the cheerleaders for our community, we have to carry the pom poms of promotion telling the world why the Clinton-Highland region is ready of the big time, and we have to tell our stories to illustrate what makes us stand out from everyone else.

There is nothing but exponential potential in our region and we have to be our own cheerleaders. No one can promote ourselves better and we need to step up and tell our story.

If we are going to grow we can’t just sit back and expect the jobs to come to us, we have to go and get the jobs. Our officials are doing their job and now we have to do ours – become our own cheerleaders, wave our pom poms, and demonstrate why we are perfectly poised to be the economic growth machine.

Ohio is on the road to recovery thanks to some incredible work by our state leaders and some unbelievable cheerleading for the Buckeye state. Now, we have to show why the next big announcement should be right here.

Get on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever platform you use and tell the world why Clinton and Highland counties are the next “big thing”. Tell your story, tell the world why we are what they have been longing.

I don’t suggest you wear incriminating outfits like I have in my past (and yes, there are photos), but I do want you to share your story. Email me with your story as to why Clinton and Highland counties are ready for the “next big” thing and we are going to tell the world.

Jarrod Weiss lives in New Vienna and is a teacher in the Hillsboro City Schools district. He can be reached at [email protected]