Thursday, March 3, 2011

Talking Kotkin As A Roadmap for Licking County's Future

Joel Kotkin's ears were burning yesterday.  The Licking County Chamber's Economic Development Committee has, as one of its goals for this year, to ponder a "roadmap" for Licking County based on the insights in Kotkin's book The Next Hundred Million:  America in 2050.

We spent some time talking about the book and what it can mean to us here.

It's not so easy to do.  That's not because Kotkin's message isn't clear, it's because the message is so broad and so far into the future that it can tend to boggle the mind.

Some things are clear, though, and we're already doing them even without the clearly written roadmap.

The roadmap will come to us in time. We're already driving forward on it.

Here's a few examples:

Embrace Manufacturing.  Kotkin's message shows the need to focus on the community's culture accepting the importance of manufacturing.  Licking County does this already, but we can do better.  The question we have to ask and answer is, "How can we do better?" 

If you asked the average person on the street here, "Is Manufacturing Dead," I think a higher percentage of our people here would answer, "No" as compared to other places in Ohio.  We need to raise that percentage to prepare for a rebirth of manufacturing and a higher population.  "Manufacturing is alive" sure sounds like a theme to follow.

Invest in Skills Training.  In Kotkin's vision of the future, places win that can meet production needs for the world at a time when many goods-producing countries are shrinking in population.  Licking County does this.  There's multitudes of proof on this one. 

This morning, our Port Authority offices hosted a consortium of companies (19 in total) that are part of a C-TEC pre-employment training and manufacturing certification program.  A pretty impressive cross section of those companies, including folks from Bayer, Dow, Boeing, THK, Kaiser Aluminum, Meritor, and Goodrich, met to talk about the progress of the 30-person group that started training February 21.  The success of this program depends on those businesses finding the final product--a certified manufacturing person--is better than what they could get on their own.  I trust they will.

Plus, our local technical college, COTC, just launched the WDIC, a customized training program for business. 

Build Infrastructure.  This job will never end, but Licking County continues to advocate for transportation improvements that, despite tight budgets, will some day get done and help move goods and people more efficiently.  We can't stop.

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