Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Now? Boost Manufacturing

I was asked to supply my opinion on what one could say to an urban-oriented audience about economic development.  Yes, it's true. 

I didn't miss that chance. 

Regular readers will find this material a bit redundant, but here's an excerpt of some of what I suggested:

"In one word, it’s manufacturing.  Given the fact that Ohio’s largest cities are not seeing manufacturing’s presence like the rest of Ohio is seeing, it is critical that you be the voice of manufacturing.
"Manufacturing is making a comeback in Ohio.  It’s outpacing the rest of the economic segments in job growth.  It is growing, despite conventional wisdom to the contrary. 

"This fact may not be well known to urban-oriented leaders, though, as the comeback is occurring in the suburban and exurban parts of Ohio. Too many people are still trying to take away the tools from the non-urban areas that allow us to compete against other states for manufacturing jobs.
"We are seeing foreign direct investment, because they see that the U.S., and Ohio in particularly, are ripe for manufacturing growth.  It no longer makes sense, if it ever did, to manufacture high value products overseas for import to the U.S. 
"Manufacturing in the U.S. is being aided by better demographics and better energy costs.  The Utica/Marcellus Shale boom  translates into lower cost access to natural gas and other feedstock.  Both being supplied from and supplying to this sector has been a draw to Ohio.  German-based xperion, brought to our Aerospace Center campus, is a prime example of this.  Samuel Strapping Systems is an example too.
"The demographics aspect is mostly unknown.  Here’s the facts:  Our key international competitors for manufacturing GDP (China, EU, Germany, Japan) are all experiencing declines in working age population or actual population decline.  Meanwhile, the U.S. is adding population and is attractive for immigration, positioning us to provide a manufacturing workforce in the future when others cannot be so predicted.

"Manufacturing, though, needs a workforce to be there for them when the timing is right for expansion.  We need a campaign to change attitudes about manufacturing as a career.  

"Too many of our kids have been dissuaded from manufacturing for all the wrong reasons.  Too many have been pursuing college for college’s sake when a technical degree or certification would do them better.  It starts by informing opinion leaders about the resurgence of manufacturing and its importance to our economy.
"Hope this helps."

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