Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ohio's image just needs the Victoria's Secret touch.Enter Les Wexner.

             In an end of the year talk to The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Governor John Kasich(R-OH) focused on accomplishments of 2013

According to Governor John Kasich Ohio has an image problem. He's sure people from say, California, won't move here because we lack an ocean and beaches. We don't have the"cool" factor.

As usual Kasich pounded the supply side talking points that passes as economic planning in the GOP. He touted bond sales backed by future Turnpike revenue to fund capital projects across the State. He passed on mentioning those projects would be a drop in the bucket when dealing with Ohio's crumbling roads and bridges.

He stressed we need to make Ohio more attractive by cutting the Income Tax. His eventual goal is to eliminate it. He mentions Texas as inspiration. He cited low taxes, low regulations and job growth as an admirable goal for Ohio to aspire to emulate.

Sorry. I don't think Texas is a State Ohio should emulate. Low wage, no benefit jobs. High poverty and teen pregnancy rate. A high number of uninsured people. A State school board more worried about teaching creationism than science.

If Kasich wants a more GM than Walmart job expansion, stay away from Texas style ideas.

So, Kasich feels the solution to Ohio's image problem is to get people to come check out Ohio. Once they see the lower cost of living here and how neat we are they'll come in droves.

I grew up in and spent most of my life in Columbus Ohio .I admit I do my share of whining, moaning and bitching about living here. OK, maybe more than my share.

Columbus Ohio skyline at night 
Even when Ohio was booming in the '90's Ohio had a reasonable cost of living. Much cheaper than SoCal, Chicagoland or the Big Apple.

I'll talk about Columbus since I know it better.

First off, we're not Chicago. That said we have a vibrant arts scene, a strong jazz tradition, excellent museums, theatre and cultural events. We have one of the largest Universities in the Nation dropped smack in the middle of town. The Ohio State University. It is a massive driver of arts, theatre, music and research. We also have a lot of small respected Liberal Arts Colleges close. The Columbus Metropolitan Library System is one of the Nation's best. The small, old suburb, Grandview Heights has the best small Library in the US.

The Central Ohio Metro Area has over a million people. However you can usually get from anywhere to anywhere else in a half an hour or so. Forty minutes at drive time. The worst traffic seems to be on Fall Saturdays near Ohio Stadium when The Buckeyes play at home. Ohio Stadium holds over 100,000 people. That's more than live in, say, Fayetteville Arkansas, home of the Razorbacks. Yeah, we put a small city in a stadium.

Columbus is also an island of progressive, diverse tolerant life in an ocean of red. Actually Columbus makes the top ten lists repeatedly for the most Gay friendly Cities.

All in all, a nice place to live for the Midwest. We do have a bit of an inferiority complex though. After all, when Leno wants a cheap laugh all he needs to say is Cleveland.

So, we now have Governor Kasich's plan to make Ohio a cool place to be.

With Ohio's economy trailing most of the Nation, with above national average unemployment the magic bullet to solve what ails Ohio is..a new marketing plan. We need to make Ohio a cool, sexy place to live. So, enter Les Wexner.

For you that live outside of Ohio Les Wexner owns The Limited, Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. He has owned and spun off Abercrombie & Fitch, Tween, Lane Bryant and other iconic brands over the years. He's also the richest guy in Ohio. The OSU Medical Center is now The Wexner Medical Center. The premier theatre and arts center at Ohio State is The Wexner Center. Les recently made a 100 million dollar donation to OSU. I will say Les gives a lot of money here in town.
Les Wexner's yacht 

Now, Kasich has invited Wexner to re-brand Ohio. In fact he cited Victoria's Secret style campaign as fun. That'll play well in Boehner's District. Right. We have Fundies here that make Pentecostals look like Unitarians.

I think Les will be challenged. Let's look what he needs to overcome.

Ohio forbids same sex marriage and will not recognize legal marriages from other States. However a repeal and replace to legalize marriage equality is moving towards the ballot.

We have some of the most restrictive abortion regulation in the Nation and are ready to go farther in our quest to be Texas.

A couple times a year we relax our firearm regulation.

There is a push for Right To Work to crush Public and private Sector Unions.

We have pro life activists on the State Medical Board overseeing healthcare professionals in the State.

We have Tea Party creationists and charter school lobbyists on the State Board Of Education.

The State Budget throws money at failing charter schools by transferring it from public school funding.

Income tax was cut as the sales tax was raised and expanded.

We have a Public/Private unholy union to promote job growth here. It seems to be an unaccountable slush fund rife with conflicts of interest. Can't tell for sure because we're not allowed to look.

I think these problems are at the root of Ohio being uncool. You won't attract real growth as long as we are a Tea Party, repressive place for people to live. Without embracing equality and diversity we'll continue to see the best and brightest go elsewhere.

Wexner is a smart guy. Good luck with what you have to work with Les.
Short North, the funky arts, dining and drinking district

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