Best Places to Live: Mentor, Ohio - The Greenspace Champion
Best Places to Live In America
The community of Mentor, Ohio was Number 37 on Money.com’s 2010 list of 100 Best American Cities for Living (up from 68th place in 2006), and rising.
Since 2010, the community has stayed well up on the list of 100 best places to live in America, and it bills itself as "The City Of Choice."
Mentor is located in the northeastern quadrant of Ohio in the same region as well known cities such as Cleveland, Akron, and Canton.
The manufacturing industries in this area have been increasing in economic health since the 2000s and continue to improve, in large part because of Governors Ted Strickland and John Kasich, who advocated for expanded education and better business tax credits in this state.
A presidential home in Mentor became the James A. Garfield National Historic Site. The city also features the outstanding Headlands Beach State Park, which is the longest public swimming beach in Ohio.
A Great Lake Touring Spot
Mentor is a medium sized city near Lake Erie and a good place to stop along this part of the Great Lakes Circle Tour. A circuit of highways and roads around Ohio's Great Lake create a relaxing travel opportunity along the North Shore of the state and on around the northern part of the lake in Ontario Province, Canada.
A revival of the passenger railroad system in the state will send a new line from Cincinnati through Columbus and on to the Cleveland area so that Mentor connects with the other cities along the Lake Erie shoreline. As of this writing, no such passenger rail route is forthcoming. However, freight rail is healthy and affecting business positively.
A better connecting rail line could benefit all of the cities from Toledo through the Cleveland area and on to Erie, Pennsylvania, facilitating shipping and passenger transport. Toledo is undergoing several planned improvements 2010 - 2020: free tuition to the University of Toledo in 2009 and 2010, reopening of its Center of Science and Industry (COSI - Toledo), better enforcement of its human trafficking laws, and new business incentives for economic gains.
The railroad runs from Toledo to Detroit, but across the Lake Erie shore, it breaks apart before it reaches Cleveland and Mentor. Erie PA has a well maintained, operating train depot; a better rail link with the Ohio North Coast would be useful.
At one time, automobile ferries ran across Lake Erie from Detroit to Toledo and even Mentor, but this business ended decades ago. To re-institute this ferry system today runs into the obstacles of two border crossings, parts of Canada being on the American ferry route. However, new Lake Erie ferries are under consideration.
The railroads were important for freight and passengers in the 1840s through the mid-1900s and can be again. Highways fill in some of the gaps - just 20 miles east of Cleveland; Mentor is near both highway I-90 (toll road) and Ohio Route 2, with some industrial areas, smaller animal ranches, and upscale residential neighborhoods.
Mentor's Beaches And Light Houses
Lighthouses In Northern Ohio
- Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse
The first Great Lakes Lighthouse Marine Museum in the State of Ohio and the United States
In the 2000s, Greyhound Bus service was slashed in smaller Ohio communities, followed quickly by a decline in rail service, because of lack of funding for maintenance and increased reliance on automobile ownership.
In addition, the loss of industrial jobs in Northeastern Ohio resulted in reduced commuter ridership on public transport, making it nearly obsolete. Then, business began to grow again.
ARRA Stimulus funding and local voter-approved taxes now facilitate the building of high-speed commuter rail lines, new types of bus services, and highway improvements as well as new business and new jobs for the Mentor area and Cleveland. Consistent good transportation is a key to economic growth.
A new 3-C Railroad line could replace old tracks and trains between Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland for both passenger and commercial purposes, if adequate funding can be raised.
The population of Ohio is ready and looking forward to the advance in mass transit. After the cuts in Greyhound and Amtrak service, passengers felt that they simply could “not get anywhere in Ohio.” A new connecting rail system will help and links among Cleveland suburbs will be useful in supplying transportation when additional new jobs are created.
Carferries may come back to Mentor and Lake Erie.
Mentor Area, I-77, I-71, I-90
In Greek mythology, Mentor's name is proverbial for a faithful and wise advisor.
What Is In Eastern Ohio?
Ohio ("Big River" in local Native American languages) became a US State in 1803 and Mentor was founded not long before this event.
As with many Ohio communities in this era, Mentor was named after a Greek legendary figure. It was inhabited by whites about 20 years after the American Revolution, founded in 1797 on a parcel in the Connecticut Western Reserve. After the Civil War, in which my Ohio great-grandfather fought for the Union, successful greenhouses/nurseries thrived in Mentor -- It's still a green community.
Mentor was already a vacation town and Cleveland families traveled to a resort in Mentor for vacations and weekends on the lake shore even before 1800.
In the early 1800s, about 130 miles south of Mentor, my great great-grandfather owned farms in Cambridge (founded 1796) off what is now highway I-77, which was an old Native American path followed by wagons, then by a railroad line, and finally by roads.The Mentor/Cleveland area made a long trip from Eastern Ohio in those days.
Rail service arrived around 1850, but in the 21st Century it became sparse. Mentor and the Cambridge - Zanesville area no longer connect well by passenger rail and there is also little Greyhound Bus service.
While Mentor was in its initial years, US Route 40, The National Road, began construction near Washington DC/Baltimore in 1806. Two or three of my ancestors helped build it in Eastern Ohio as other roads developed from Cleveland and Mentor down through the Cambridge-Zanesville area.
The historic Y Bridge in Zanesville was built in the 1850s and major roads in all of Eastern Ohio have 200 years of history or more, but the rail lines have declined or disappeared, except for efficient freight moving.
Outdoor and Sporting Attractions
The North Coast Region of Ohio offers Headlands Beach State Park along the southern shores of Lake Erie, featuring hiking trails and good birding opportunities among its wildlife inhabitants. Adjacent to the park, the Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve (450 acres), State Marina and Mentor Marsh lie on Lake Erie and features an oak bluff that attracts not only migrating birds, but also several species of migratory butterflies. Another outdoor site in this area is Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, which offers a number of rare plants as well as additional migrating birds.
This area along the lake is an outdoor person's paradise and intent on sustainability. Still another natural site here is Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, with several hiking trails from which to watch various species of birds. All of these places are ideal for viewing bird migrations to and from Canada across Lake Erie.
One famous yearly migration not far from Mentor is the Hinkley Buzzard Festival, celebrating the regular return of these birds. Aside from wildlife and native plants, Mentor maintains a wide network of bicycle paths in the city and provides the Black Brook Golf Course as well for outdoor sports.
Mentor maintains at least 1,200 acres of greenspace, 34 city parks, 1.5 miles in a swimming beach on Lake Erie (the longest on the lake), and half a dozen parks and beaches along the lake shore. In the Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve site, four separate hiking/biking trails service four different areas of the nature preserve. These trails are ADA accessible with electric carts supplied to those who need them. All of these areas are natural and use native pants to thrive while aiding the many special of wildlife that make its homes here.
The Lagoons Nature Preserve is unique in that it supports many rare dune plants, a river marsh, a large oak bluff, open waterways as well. We think of Midwestern sand dunes in Michigan, but not about dunes in Ohio, except that a one-half mile expanse of these dunes lies in Mentor.
The marshlands here are a vital breeding area for fish and waterfowl, as well as a stop over for migrating birds and butterflies every year. A good vacation could include watching over 150 species of birds and many butterflies in Mentor, while taking photos. This nature preserve is home to two Endangered Plants, five Threatened Plants, and a wide diversity of wildlife.
Mentor and NE Ohio Attractions
- Ohio State Parks - Headlands Beach State Park
Headlands Beach State Park
- The Holden Arboretum
The Holden Arboretum has a wide variety of activities and tours to help you discover all that nature has to offer.
- James A Garfield National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service)
Home and Victorian Furniture collection. In 1876, when my grandfather was 6 years old, James A. Garfield bought the Dickey Farm on Mentor Avenue and operated the first successful front porch campaign for President from his home.
Dining and Entertainment
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is about 10 miles SW of Cleveland, while Lake Erie is the site of much commercial freight. One of the items brought into the Greater Cleveland Metro is fresh fish and other seafood, to serve at the seafood restaurant along the coast. I know several people that drive from Central Ohio to patronize these restaurants and to attend events at the local arena, including Professional Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts events.
In addition to eating out, the people of Mentor make the grocery business a success. Jobs in the grocery business appear among the most frequently listed job vacancies in the city, not only for seasonal turnover, but for increasing new jobs as the city population increases.
In the earlier 20th Century, automobile ferries on Lake Erie ran from Detroit to Cleveland with a lot of travelers and vacationers on board, but there were discontinued.national border crossings make this difficult to reinstate today.
Ohio's North Coast Region
Tourism, shopping, and outdoors activities support Mentor to a grest extent. Mentor is, in fact, the retail hub of the Cleveland area, with US Route 20, named Mentor Avenue in town, the main business district. The large Great Lakes Mall is located on US 20, along with additional malls, strip centers, and other retail establishments on US 20 and surrounding roads.
At the same time, the City of Mentor encourages the incoming and development of light industry, businesses with incentives such as low property taxes. The City manager and City Council feel that heavy industry is outdated for this area and plan to develop a diversity of business variety.
Employment and Business
For Mentor, job vacancies listed in September 2010 were 25,000+ and for November 2014 were 81,200+ openings posted across the Internet. Positions have been largely in Registered Nursing Specialties, other Healthcare Professions, and Business, Grocery, and Retail Sales fields.
The bulk of job openings are mainly in Mentor, Cleveland, Beachwood, Bedford, and Solon, clustered within less than a 25-mile radius of Mentor city center.
You will note the large number of Nurses of various specialties needed in the Mentor area. In addition to hospitals and the famous Cleveland Clinic, an Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation Rehabilitation Center has been located in Cleveland, needing Physical and Occupational Therapists as well as nurses and physicians.
These rehab centers have gradually closed and their clientele parceled out to private facilities under state contracts. The Cleveland Center, opened in the mid-1980s, was installed with outdoor surveillance equipment, because of the higher crime rate in the area in which it stood.
Mentor has experienced greater job growth on average than the State of Ohio overall.
Emerging Jobs in Northern Ohio
Newer jobs appearing in want ads and increasing in number quickly include:
- Geomodelling Specialists for the Oil & Gas Industries
- PricewaterhouseCoopers audit, financial, and IT jobs
- Managers of Healthcare Information
Top 10 High Demand Jobs
- CDL licensed Truck Drivers: Hogan Transportation, Hub Group Trucking, CRST, Gordon Trucking, USA Truck.
- Registered Nurses (RNs) - Clinical Specialties
- Registered Nurses (RNs) - Intensive Care Unit/ICU
- Engineering - Several specialties.
- Medical and Health Technicians
- Registered Nurses (RNs) - Medical Surgical
- Registered Nurses (RNs) - Telemetry
- Registered Nurses (RNs) - Emergency Department
- Business Analysts
- Nurse Practitioners (NPs)/Medical Assistants/Physician Assistants
Additional High Demand Jobs in Mentor
- Production and Manufacturing Supervisors and other Workers
- Retail Sales Representatives
Cleveland Clinic Achievements
The first full face transplant was performed at the Cleveland Clinic.
Major Employers in the Greater Mentor Area
- University Hospitals
- The Cleveland Clinic Foundation
- MetroHealth System
- CVS Health and CVS Pharmacy
- Giant Eagle and Sav-a-Lot Grocery Stores
- PNC Bank
- Rockwell Automation - Engineers and Production Positions
- Boehringer Ingelheim - Manufacturing; part of Aerospace Industry
- Kaiser Permanente – Health/Hospitals
Several agencies for Travel Nursing are active in the Mentor Area, because of a nursing shortage. Nurses willing to travel there for 3 - 12 months enjoy rental/mortgage payments, higher than average wages, and several; perks.
Mentor Area Higher Education
- Case Western Reserve University
- Cleveland Institute of Dental and Medical Assistants
- Cleveland State University
- John Carroll University
- Lakeland Community College
© 2010 Patty Inglish