Together as one
Business View Magazine interviews Tom Mackin, Mayor of Perrysburg, Ohio, for our focus on Growth & Community Development in U.S. Cities
If there is one word that illustrates what the City of Perrysburg, Ohio strives for, it would be inclusivity. Whether it takes the shape of how the community does business, how elected officials manage growth, or how children of all abilities play, inclusivity is something the City of Perrysburg is always looking to be better at and it will continue to be a main objective.
Nestled in Northwest Ohio’s Wood County, the growing community of Perrysburg pays homage to its past while forging forward to embrace what lies ahead. Since its founding in 1816, Perrysburg was known as a bedroom suburb of Toledo but the city has come into its own. About 25,000 people reside in Perrysburg, yet it continues to foster a small, hometown feel that makes people who visit feel like they’ve come home. According to Mayor Tom Mackin, “Given the expansion that has occurred over the last number of years, Perrysburg is now, in a lot of ways, its own independent community. Growth has occurred because there is a sense of history and a sense of community. Perrysburg is a place that other people are drawn to for festivals and events. It’s right near the Maumee River and that access is very important. I think it gives residents of the community an opportunity to come together.”
Boats can anchor for free at the 50-ft. Louisiana Avenue Boat Dock, so people can meander through the lovely shops situated in the downtown core or dine at one of its many appealing restaurants. Motorists also appreciate the welcoming atmosphere of Perrysburg where a new overpass dubbed ‘The Diverging Diamond’ has made getting to and from the city more accessible, with safer and more unobstructed traffic flow. The Diamond also allows for better navigation to one of Perrysburg’s main providers of healthcare, Mercy Hospital.
“As a suburb, Perrysburg is the hub intersection for the Ohio Turnpike and Interstate 75, so it’s a place where people from all over have access to and we’ve taken advantage of that and made it a part of who we are,” notes Mackin. “That’s why with the projects we are working on, we focus on making sure that it is a very liveable community that is very welcoming.” A warm welcome is also extended to businesses and services that want to make their home in Perrysburg, such as Ohio Caterpillar, which is constructing a new facility in the city, and Mercy Hospital, which underwent a recent expansion. Mackin adds, “Our Mercy Health partner just expanded its hospital so it can provide more access, along with the development of new jobs and new opportunities. It also incorporated state-of-the-art technology to better serve its customers in providing healthcare opportunities. We’ve got a core development of healthcare and medical facilities and that’s something that we’re very proud of.”
Mackin credits more efficient municipal processes in helping those two major developments along, explaining, “We’ve been able to very effectively improve our processes since I’ve been Mayor, as far as the turnover time regarding development, especially for commercial properties. So that there aren’t the normal lags and delays in getting the job done. Business works at a pace that might be a little bit different than government, but they have to work hand-in-hand to make sure the quality of product is what happens once it is complete, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of balancing that. Businesses want to move to a community they know appreciates them and is willing to work with them.”
Matt Sapara, Vice President of Regional Development and Operations at Mercy Health, concurs, stating, “The Mayor and his administration have made it very easy to invest in Perrysburg. We follow population and we also would want to be where it’s easy to do business with people we have strong relationships with, and I think the Mayor and his team definitely qualify for that.” Mercy Health has a phase-in approach to development and will have spent, since 2013, just over $100 million in the community. “We’ve done that because we really believed that’s where the population was headed and I think the numbers have proven that,” adds Sapara.
Since opening an emergency department in 2013, Mercy Health has seen about 10,000 patients annually come through those doors. Hundreds more are seen at its oncology centre and, since opening last year, the 40-bed Victory Center and newly opened surgical suites see hundreds more. Sapara recounts, “It’s really unique from a medical industry perspective because it’s split pretty evenly between bricks and mortar and also technology that we’ve implemented into that location.” A 64-slice PET Scanner for instance, is extremely advanced technology that enables specialists to scan images of the body to precision. Mercy also recently introduced a Gamma Knife that is a concentrated radiation force used to treat issues inside the scull. Sapara notes, “Previously if someone wanted to have that done they had to go to Detroit or Cleveland. We are very fortunate to have some of the most advanced physicians, literally in the world, that can use that technology – and its right here in Perrysburg.”
Mercy Hospital strives to be the community’s source of care for all healthcare needs, including bone fractures, surgeries, and illnesses, with specialties such as family care, orthopaedics and gastrointestinal. Recreational needs are equally valued and made available for Perrysburg residents. Mackin reports, “We also have, as part of the growth and expansion, made sure that residents and the community are more connected through multi-use paths and parks that we continue to improve and upgrade.”
A new project dubbed Wood County Plays is indicative of the Perrysburg community’s inclusivity mandate. Carly Dauch represents the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities, which services over 1,000 individuals. She shares, “A privately funded, inclusive playground will be up and running next summer for all to enjoy. The idea was brought forward by a local family whose son utilizes a walker for mobility. They recognized a need for a more inclusive playground and from there they gathered the troops. Together, we created a steering committee and a community committee and started on the ground running to fundraise locally. Both of these committees consist of parents, family members, school personnel, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, self-advocates, and other community members who all saw a need for an inclusive playground and wanted to support the initiative.”
Creative fundraising efforts were established and local businesses have held various fundraisers for the cause as well, helping Wood County Plays surpass its $600,000 mark. Dauch states, “The goal is to be a truly inclusive place, so we are considering physical, cognitive, emotional, and social challenges and barriers. We really want to break down all of those barriers to provide a space where everyone can play side-by-side and really come together and enjoy the community.”
That coming together as a whole is what draws people to Perrysburg as a place to raise their families. As a result, residential growth has been significant, going from about 10,000 in 1990 to over 25,000 today. Looking further down the road, Mackin predicts continued growth and development in both residential housing and commercial properties. He acknowledges, “There is new housing being built and, as a matter of fact, that has not even very much slowed because of COVID-19. But while we move forward, it is also important that we preserve our history and that we make sure we recognize who we are and why we are here. We need to maintain the sense of small town community that we have, so people feel welcome regardless of who they are and any challenges they may face. That sense of connectivity community-wise is something we are really striving to do. We are all working together and I am really proud to be the Mayor of Perrysburg and to see how people can succeed, and given the opportunity, what they can do for their community.”
AT A GLANCE
What: A suburb of Toledo; population 25,000
Where: Wood County, Ohio
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