Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
The hardball presidential campaign comes to Akron's most famous softball stadium, Firestone, Saturday morning. Someone should encourage Democrat John Kerry to look around before he goes into the spruced-up city facility. If he does, he'll discover the heart, muscle and soul of Akron's economic past and present.
If a candidate cannot address the maelstrom that is Ohio's economy from this juncture, he shouldn't become president.
Across South Main Street and up the grassy slope in front of the Bridgestone/Firestone Research Center stands (well, sits, actually) the statue of Harvey Firestone on the cusp of Firestone Park, the community Firestone built for his workers and one still vibrant.
To the north, just off Main Street, are the remnants of the great industrial complex that Harvey Firestone built at the turn of a another century, a time when manufacturing jobs were not being lost in Akron and much of Ohio but generated.
It is a different Akron, one from which Kerry, or President George Bush, for that matter, can learn what is required to return this swing state so important in the November election to its economic zenith.
``Even as Bridgestone/Firestone removed its headquarters, the company acknowledged Akron's place as a center of polymer knowledge by maintaining and later expanding research and racing operations here,'' suggested David Giffels and some other guy in Wheels of Fortune: The Story of Rubber in Akron.
Akron still hasn't figured out how to fully translate its polymer knowledge (the University of Akron's College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is second to none, regardless the ratings) into practical, local jobs that pay better than the service-industry, let's-wait-on-one-another positions that are the job-creation norm here and elsewhere in Ohio.
Almost as soon as President Bush completes his acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention in New York, Kerry and running mate John Edwards will relaunch their campaign with a midnight in the western Ohio city of Springfield. Kerry will respond to the president and to questions raised during the RNC.
If he wants answers to winning Ohio and the presidency, he'll find them all around Firestone Stadium Saturday. It is one of the places where Ohio's economic past and future are hiding in plain sight.
- Steve Love
posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 9:16 AM
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