Ohio's returned to its old tourism slogan, here's why

Jessie Balmert
Cincinnati Enquirer
"Ohio, The Heart of It All" is the state's tourism slogan once again.

Ohio is, once again, the heart of it all.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new − or, more accurately, old − tourism slogan for the state Wednesday: "Ohio, The Heart of it All." The state first used this slogan to attract visitors to the Buckeye State in the 1980s but retired it in the early 2000s.

"We are returning to something familiar," DeWine said in Cleveland Wednesday. "We are Ohio, the heart of it all."

The slogan will replace "Ohio. Find it Here," which was first announced in 2015 during Gov. John Kasich's administration.

"Ohio. Find it Here" was easily turned into a critique by those frustrated with the state's politics or policies. On social media, the "it" you can find here in Ohio ranged from potholes and "Hell is Real" signs to discrimination and corrupt politicians. (One of the state's most powerful Republican lawmakers was recently convicted in a sweeping bribery case.)

Before "Find it Here," Ohio had two tourism slogans. "Ohio, The Heart of It All" was first used in 1984 during Democratic Gov. Richard Celeste's administration, and "Ohio, So Much to Discover" promoted the state in the early 2000s during Republican Gov. Bob Taft's tenure.

TourismOhio's focus has recently shifted from solely attracting visitors to the state's attractions to also attracting people to come live in the state. Ohio's population growth has slowed, costing the state a congressional seat after the 2020 U.S. Census.

"What we're promoting is more than just a travel destination. We are promoting all of our great state, holistically," DeWine said in Cleveland Wednesday. "We also want them to know that this is a great place to live, a great place to work and a great place to raise a family."

The slogan comes with a new ad featuring the song "Must be the Love" from Akron soul band Wesley Bright & The Honeytones. Columbus-based Ron Foth Advertising designed the new logo.

The announcement came on Ohio Tourism Day, which was also celebrated at the Ohio Statehouse with booths touting Ohio's tourism attractions. Inside the building, House lawmakers prepared to vote on a measure that would ask voters to make it harder to amend the state constitution. Another committee discussed a bill to ban transgender girls from participating in female sports.

From 'I Love New York' to 'Say WA'

While every state has a tourism slogan, not all of them have stood the test of time. New York's "I Love New York," Virginia's "Virginia is for Lovers" and West Virginia's "Wild, Wonderful West Virginia" have lasted decades.

But others were quickly panned. Washington state's "Say WA!" was dumped shortly after it was announced. "Oklahoma is OK" was ultimately not OK with many residents. And Wisconsin's "Stay Just a Little Bit Longer" was considered a bit clingy.

Can Ohio's slogan compete with its neighbors? Michigan has "Pure Michigan," Pennsylvania markets itself with "Pursue Your Happiness” and Kentucky has pitched its "Unbridled Spirit." Last year, Indiana announced a new marketing campaign: "IN Indiana."

Ohio's state motto is "With God, All Things Are Possible," the brainchild of young Cincinnatian Jimmy Mastronardo in the 1950s. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the motto in court, arguing that it was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. But a full appeals court decision sided with Ohio and the motto.

Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

Get more political analysis by listening to the Ohio Politics Explained podcast