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How cool? Ohio cool ...



Published: Sun, January 27, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)


The DeBartolo-York families, with their berth in next Sunday’s Super Bowl, are riding a wave others already have enjoyed.

That wave is not having unexpected, phenomenal success from a young quarterback.

It is not tough, gritty performances by a coach named Harbaugh.

It’s not a fancy, new, highfalutin stadium that will open in 2014.

No ...

The wave is “Ohio cool.”

I’m not sure if you’ve been keeping score lately, but Ohio is cool again.

The 49ers might play in California, but the team’s corporate home and soul is in Ohio.

And as the DeBartolo family story — from brother-sister Denise and Eddie to favored son- nephew Jed — plays out from last week through this week, it all comes back to Youngstown and Ohio.

Cool started with the V&M Star announcement a few years back — the largest project of its kind in America at that time.

The flourishing of Lordstown in the post-recession auto industry helped display our cool.

Those two anchored a local economy that ignited in 2011 with shale-gas exploration.

By 2012, Ohio’s economy was outpacing the rest of the states, and Brookings had it among the best in the nation in terms of manufacturing job growth.

This past summer, the Valley vaulted onto the national tech stage with the launch of a $70 million advanced manufacturing institute.

Nary an election conversation could happen last fall without Ohio coming up, and Youngstown was often mentioned, too.

All of the downtown changes — new residents, restaurants, shops and museums — extend Youngstown’s cool.

Sports teams contributed (OK, some did) to the cool, with Urban Meyer putting Buckeyes football back on the map, and the Buckeyes basketball team gaining national notice when it beat undefeated Michigan a couple of weeks back.

You could give credit to Gov. John Kasich. It’s hard because suits and cool aren’t commonly linked. But he called for cool in April 2011:

“We’ve got to make Ohio cool. ... You ever been to Austin? It’s very cool. You want to go to the Triangle of North Carolina, go down there and check it out, it’s cool. We need to make Ohio cool.”

Locally, the guy with the coolest job title, Youngstown Business Incubator chief evangelist Jim Cossler, is not too quick to bestow “cool” yet, but he’s close.

“Ohio has some reasonably cool spots. Youngstown, not so much, but we’re starting to get there,” said Cossler.

“There are a few ‘cool’ things starting to pop up, just not enough yet to make us a ‘destination city.’”

A couple of years ago, we had an intern, Grace Wyler, take a one-year job here. She was from California and graduated from Dartmouth, and wanted to come to here for “the experience.” Given the places she’d been, I asked, “Why here?”

“Because Ohio is where it’s all happening,” she said (or words to that effect).

Maybe Grace started cool.

However it started, it’s cool to be part of it.

And this week, we get to enjoy cool with the 49ers and the DeBartolos.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. He blogs, too, on vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.


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