“They looked on a map, figured out where we were sitting and saw the benefit,” said Mayor Bell, a gregarious former University of Toledo defensive lineman, referring to Toledo’s location near a number of large cities in the United States and Canada. “They could see that this town needed to be helped a little bit and that it could be on the upswing — that there was potential, that they could do something, that it could be incredible and it would not probably take a whole lot to do.”
After their initial approaches — “Nobody had heard of Toledo,” Mr. Bell said — the city’s government and business leaders began pitching the feng shui of Toledo, where wind meets water. The city is a major transit hub, crossed by railways and highways, and has the busiest general cargo port in the Great Lakes region. Housing is affordable, and the abandoned factories, including those where windows, bottles and windshields were once made and shipped around the world, mean there is plenty of space.
…“When you think about the U.S., you can’t just think about New York and L.A.,” Mr. Guo said recently as he sat in a conference room at the offices of his company, Five Lakes Global Group. “Don’t get me wrong, L.A. is fabulous. New York is great. But if you want to connect with American life, it’s Toledo.”