“This is kind of in the sticks.”
Those were the first words out of a recent VIP visitor’s mouth to our Port Authority's Aerospace Center in Heath, Ohio.
I don’t have a poker face so I looked something like the photo above I’m sure, and he could immediately see my displeasure at his comment. Thankfully, my impulse to turn him around instead of thump him kicked in.
We’ll let the name of the visitor who said that remain anonymous, but it doesn't stop me from labeling him. I'd label him an urban elite. He fits the category of someone who assumes that one's capabilities and abilities are somehow tied to the population density of one's living space.
His crassness helped me make a point, though. I sent a list of talking points out to some of the people who overheard the VIP's comment and a little wider audience too under this premise: What do you say to a misinformed skeptic who comes in with a perception of our location so completely different than reality?
TALKING POINTS TO TURN AROUND A SKEPTICHere are some of the things I recited and some I wish I had recited to turn around someone who came in overladen with misperceptions about Licking County:
· Central Licking County is home to a presence for Boeing, United Technologies, Dow, Bayer, Owens Corning, and a host of Fortune 500 companies’ plants. We have pretty good company “in the sticks” I guess.
· The Aerospace Center has a 50-year track record of attracting a unique mix of engineers and technician-level talent. There are few places that can say that. Urbanized places may have more engineers, but can’t attract technicians. Rural areas may have technicians, but can’t attract engineers. Licking County has proven to bring both.
· The combination of the Air Force Primary Standards Lab and the Type II metrology lab capabilities which are second-most within Boeing, makes this place home to the greatest concentration of aerospace metrology in the World.
· With 249,000 sq. ft. of clean room space, the Aerospace Center stands out on a very short list of places that can boast such a capability in one site.
· The list of one-of-a-kind equipment on this campus is amazing too.
o Kaiser Aluminum’s hot roll process for making hard alloy aluminum is the only one of its kind in the World.
o The AWACS-ESM anechoic chamber at Boeing is the only one on the globe.
o Samuel’s heat treat line uses bismuth to anneal steel in a “green” process unique to North America.
o Bionetics houses the NIST standard for lasers.
· With 11 million sq. ft. of build out industrial space, Central Licking County’s SR79/I-70 Corridor is home to the largest concentration of manufacturing in Central Ohio and, arguably, among the largest concentrations in Ohio.
· Newark is Ohio’s 20th largest city and one of only two in the top 20 that grew in the last Census.
If it’s density a person is all about, tell them this: How dense do you have to be to think a place with all these capabilities is "in the sticks?"