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Clutch trip

Some have money. Others wield power. Some just think they do.
Marathon Petroleum Corp. has both.
And Gary R. Heminger’s timing for a visit to the Army Corps of Engineers probably couldn’t have been better for northwestern Ohio in general and Findlay in particular.
Marathon’s chief executive officer stopped in Washington recently to talk about flood control in the Blanchard River watershed. Many had gone before, doing the good that small town officials can do in a federal bureaucracy that issues its red tape by the mile but seems to cut it easily for much bigger things, like New Orleans.
But Heminger had more to show and tell on his visit. He had architects’ renderings for an $80 million “campus” in the heart of the downtown of a smallish Midwestern city, and a prediction about the jobs that will come with it.
And they aren’t just any jobs. They are jobs that make mayors beg like children on Christmas Eve: High-paying, white collar, non-polluting, in-front-of-a-computer jobs, the kind young professionals seek to earn good money for their growing families and their communities.
Think Microsoft. Think Google. But, tie these jobs to energy, which is never going out of style.
Then, perhaps, Heminger brought up the economic angle, the national security angle. Army people get that.
Point out that those buildings on South Main Street aren’t just for any pencil-pushers. They are for bright and quiet, but powerful, folks who control nearly 10 percent of our country’s fuel. And, they do it all day and all night, even on Christmas Eve.
But water in their basement annoys them, and water that prevents them from getting to and from work annoys them more.
The Army must guard against those folks getting stopped somewhere near the strategic intersection of North Main and Center streets. Marathon can’t order fuel for, say, Fort Benning if its people are stuck behind a wooden barrier way out on East Main Cross Street.
And that doesn’t count those tractor-trailers loaded with new-car parts moving at 70 mph every day between Findlay and Detroit and Marysville. The Army can’t have them stopped by water on Interstate 75 while President Barack Obama’s autoworkers stand idle for want of generators or plastic panels.
We’re sure Heminger’s approach was much more subtle and his words much better chosen. (He told Courier reporters on Monday that his new project needed “progressions” on flood control.) But we’re making a point here.
Many good people who can see the potential of our area’s future have made the trip to Buffalo and Washington to plead our case to our Army. It has been six years and a few have passed their batons to others.
There, they saw a lot of smiles and heard a lot of “maybes” and, often when they got home, a lot of whining about their motives, their time, and their expenses. They’ve attracted powerful supporters, like senators and congressmen and neighboring officials. And they haven’t given up.
No one would doubt Professor Yogi Berra that it ain’t over ’til it’s over.
Nevertheless, there are few better clutch teammates than a savvy, powerful, politically-connected CEO, carrying in his briefcase sharp architectural drawings and about $80 million — close to $90 million, if you count the coming Marathon Center for the Performing Arts.
It says we’re very serious about working together to solve problems around here. And it says we’re very serious about moving some dirt. Soon.

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