Saturday, January 30, 2010

What a Difference a Great Coach Makes

My basketball experience was in seventh grade.  Though I made some free throws and started every game, I never scored a basket all season.

Today, my son, John, ended the Platt family shame and scored his first field goal in a basketball game.

John, like his Dad before him, is lacking atheltic ability, but his enjoyment of the basketball season wasn't diminished because he had a great coach and great teammates. 

Thanks, Coach Nick!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Facebook Fan Page--Only Second to One

As owners and marketers of industrial facilities with a high-tech appeal, it’s appropriate that our Port Authority be seen as an innovator and leader in the use of technology for our field.

I happen to think the application of emerging social networking tools is one way we do that.

That’s why I’m proud where we rank among our colleague port authorities around the world.

The Port Authority of Kansas City, MO has 531 “fans” on its Facebook page. They are the only port authority with more fans than us. But there are others on our heels.

Consider joining Facebook and becoming our “fan” at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What? No Cleveland? Ohio's 3C is Now Cincinnati, Columbus, and. . . Creston?

I read US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood's blog this morning announcing the high speed rail initiative that was part of last year's ARRA stimulus package.

This map is there as part of the announcment:

Here's a closer view at Ohio:

For the record, I know Cleveland.  I can find Cleveland, Ohio on a map. 

This map is no Cleveland.

That section about the 3C map in Ohio doesn't hit Cleveland. 

Apparently, the Ohio 3C is now going to be Cincinnati, Columbus, and Creston.   Creston, Ohio is pretty near that map point shown.

Maybe someone can clear that map up.  Or maybe the 3C Plan B is to stop at Creston until more money is found.

For my rail friends out there, please forgive a little more high speed rail humor.

Licking County--A STEM Education Leader

A stat recited a couple of years back by Battelle exec Rich Rosen was an eye opener. Nationally, 80% of parents discourage their children from science and technology careers.

Even if  that number is only half true in Ohio, that’s a scary stat for the Port Authority and our customers who so heavily rely on a skilled workforce possessing backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math.

That's why the Port Authority has devoted considerable effort to helping be a part of the solution.

I chair the STEM Industry Committee at The Works which is Licking County's science, history, and arts museum.  The committee includes a who's who of representatives from science and technology companies and institutions.  It's a sounding board for the team at The Works to help ensure the programming is making a difference for families, education, and business.

Last June, aided by a $50,000 commitment from the Port Authority’s Community Projects Fund and a major county-wide fundraising effort, The Works hired a STEM education coordinator, Lisa Sharpe. Her job is to bring local relevance to kids and families by providing area schools with STEM resources and injecting a business-in-Licking-County face into all of The Works’ STEM programming.

I'm encouraged.  We are less than one year into this effort but its already easy to see Licking County is going to whittle away at those parents who might resemble that stat and discourage science and technology careers for their children.

And here's hoping the community will turn out for the Aerospace Center Industry Day at The Works on February 21 where Boeing, Kaiser, Bionetics, and the Port Authority, in a fun environment, show the science, technology, engineering, and math of what we do every day.


Here's a video about The Works:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What is 3C Rail Plan B? I Got It

An announcement is due tommorrow on the potential funding of rail passenger projects around the nation under last year's stimulus.  Ohio leaders await word on the so-called 3C project which would upgrade rail lines between Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland to reintroduce passenger train service there.

Though, presumably, we'll learn the funding for Ohio tomorrow, it makes one wonder what the "Plan B" should be if Ohio doesn't get the full $564 million in funding the 3C project requires.

It's a little known fact that Ohio actually owns the rail line from Columbus east to the Ohio River.  The state-owned Panhandle Line is familiar to Licking County as it serves Central Ohio's largest manufacturing corridor which is right here in Newark-Heath-Hebron.

It wouldn't be as catchy as the 3C name for the line, but it would be 2CNP--Columbus-Newark-Coshocton-Pittsburgh.  The line would restore passenger service to Columbus which currently has none, among other things.

I also suspect this line could be made passenger-rail ready for less than $564 million. 

So, if Ohio gets less than what it asked for to do the 3C, maybe the 2CNP could be Plan B.

Watching Governor's Energy Fund Closely

In his annual State-of-the-State address yesterday, Governor Ted Strickland announced a new Energy Gateway Fund with a combined $40 million from federal and state funding sources aimed at solar, fuel-cell, energy storage, and wind energy capital investment in Ohio.

The big question is will it fund more installation of these things or will it go to fuel a manufacturing rebirth?

Though there certainly has to be a market for installation of these things for any state to succeed in attracting manufacturing, the true value, for Ohio, in these advanced energy areas is NOT in installation of them.  It's also not in more university-led, state-funded think tanks either.

It takes dollars, lots of them, to land these sought-after manufacturing projects.

In November, Pennsylvania revealed that it had outspent its fellow state competitors, including Ohio, to land a $500,000,000 (that's half a billon) solar module manufacturing plant with high-paying, high-tech jobs.

$40 million might have done it actually.

So, let's watch it closely. 

The measure of success will be in how many of our Ohio neighbors get to make a career working in engineering and producing solar and wind turbine components, not in how many get to work a few manhours while installing them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anecdotal Evidence of Recovery

This is how Windy Murphy of Opportunity Links in Licking County is quoted in today's edition of The Advocate speaking in regards to a dim December 2009 labor market review:  "I have had so many exciting job leads lately.  We’re having trouble keeping up with the job leads. And, it’s not even entry level, but skilled positions.”

I know Windy as a conscientious, capable job placement official.  I truly trust Windy's read of the situation.

So, despite the dim report, I'll bank that as one more piece of anecdotal evidence of a pending economic recovery.

No Where Else

The Newark Air Force Base used to do open houses for the community. It was a normal year that saw 50,000 people cycle through the hallways of the massive Building 4 at the base to learn what happened there every day.

The United Way parade was another place where the Newark AFB had a big presence. Among the most elaborate floats every year were always the base's entry.

That was the Air Force's way of reaching out to the community and letting people know they existed as a future place for kids who worked hard and excelled at science, technology, engineering, and math.

Now, it's harder to reach a large community audience, but it is still just as necessary.

That's why I'm encouraging folks to mark their calendar for Sunday, February 21, 2010 from Noon to 5 p.m. for Aerospace Center Industry Day at The Works.

See this event write-up on Facebook and RSVP:

No where else in 2010 will one have a chance to see Boeing, Bionetics, Kaiser, and the Port Authority showing what goes on at the Central Ohio Aerospace & Technology Center every day in a fun environment like this.

Among the live demonstrations, Kaiser Aluminum will have a working model of an extrusion press and Boeing will show off 3D software in use in its Virtual Customer Integration Lab.

My First Blog

My first blog was in 1995. No kidding. 

Back then, when I worked for the State of Ohio, the state Department of Development's marketing guru John Damschroder post a daily column on ConnectOhio. That was an early blog, really.

Every once in a while, he let me put up a few guest posts and continued to do so until the site evolved away in the late 1990's.

So, my first online column was 15 years ago.

With this new site, I'll be more frequently posting my thoughts from a family, work, and community perspective.

My purpose, as it was in 1995 and will be now in 2010, is to promote a greater public interest in economic development for Licking County and Ohio.