Envision the Ohio of innovation

By Matthew Balsinger

Anyone who has ever taken a trip through Ohio can discover one thing: Ohio is quite a depressing place.  Each of our major cities is plagued with unemployment, scarred with abandoned buildings and several have also made the Forbes list of most miserable cities.

This may lead many to believe we need a corporate messiah to come save our state’s economy; however, the answer to our economic problems is not outside the state, but right in our own back yards.

The University of Akron, as well as several companies in the Akron area, are testing the first answer to our problems, which is a progressive and innovative solution of reuse. Folk Hall was once a car dealership, Polsky was once a shopping mall and Quaker Square was once a grain silo.  The Envision apartments here in Akron show the other key to our future.  Not only have they reused and refitted old buildings to serve a modern purpose, they have also done so by incorporating green technology.

The key to this state’s future economy is that we must not try to become what was successful in the past, but instead become the success of the future.  Ohio should become not only the testing ground, but also the showcase of green technology.  This state’s climate has the best of all seasons, and if green technologies can survive and thrive here, they can almost anywhere.

Despite what many politicians in Columbus may believe, green technology is the future of our world economy, and the United States has fallen considerably behind.  Ohio has many of these start-up industries, but we cannot afford to wait for the country to give us the okay.

Some may believe the answer to tough times is to conserve resources for when times get better.  This may be good in theory, but not in practice.  You cannot improve your economy without investing in the future, a college degree being a perfect example of this.  Countless generations before us have invested in that which we now benefit from.  We cannot rest on our laurels; we must take a progressive and innovative approach to our problems like many in Akron have already done.

The fundamental question we must ask ourselves is what kind of State do we want to be: do we adapt the conservative policy of hoping that one day the glory of old will return?  Or do we take the courage to invest in the innovation that will make us great again?  The problem with Ohio is not that we are thinking too big, it is that we are not thinking big enough.