Ted Strickland needs to sell success stories.
With a desperately bad record to reflect upon, those opportunities are few and far between.
But a look back at the Governor’s State of the State speech and a recent statement from President Obama provide us a clue of where the Governor’s campaign will look as they start recording footage for campaign commercials.
Cue Toledo, Ohio.
With its new solar power plant, it’s a perfect example of what the Governor would like to expand upon throughout Ohio.
But is Toledo really the model the Governor will likely portray it to be?
Moving past the semantics debate, it’s worth delving into the issue of Toledo’s place as a “leader” in the solar industry.
In March, The Blade published a three-day series of reports that showed Ohio had, despite its early success in the solar industry at UT and First Solar, lost out on thousands of solar manufacturing jobs in the last few years to states offering more lucrative incentives and stronger product markets for solar companies.
Because of state government subsidies and more solar consumers, states such as California, Oregon, Arizona, and even Ohio neighbors such as Michigan and Pennsylvania have attracted dozens of solar manufacturing operations over the last few years. The soft estimate of 6,000 solar jobs in Toledo now is the same estimate from 2007 when the region was dubbed a solar “hot spot” nationally.
First Solar may now employ 1,000 people at its Perrysburg Township plant with an average starting wage of $12 per hour for its factory workers, but its headquarters are in Arizona and most of the $2 billion-a-year company’s production takes place in Germany and Malaysia.
Willard & Kelsey, an aspiring panel maker in Perrysburg, has on several occasions failed to achieve its predicted employment numbers and has been sued for failure to fill a contracted order. But the company now says the issuance of a $10 million loan from the state should help it grow from 70 to 200 employees and ramp up production by year’s end.
As we’ve talked about for months here on 3BP, Strickland is relying on “green jobs” to make his case for re-election. But in the midst of this jobs crisis, can Ohio afford to make its focus an incentive reliant industry that has shown very little evidence of durability and economic growth?
Should taxpayer dollars be spent by the millions on subsidy-funded jobs by the dozen, when we’re hundreds of thousands of jobs in the hole?
This video from back in March shows what Strickland is up against. Is he willing to spend the dollars necessary to sell an industry that has been shown to the voters over and over again as not the success many thought it could be?