Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Embrace Suburbs, Or Lose

Joel Kotkin is feeding both political parties with some fact-based thoughts on suburbs.  His latest piece, "Why Suburbia Irks Some Conservatives," clearly has a longer-term purpose than just a one-time tweak.  It's just in time for the 2016 election.

He's right to do so.  The last presidential election was decided on suburbs vs. urban areas, with the dividing line being in "swing" suburbs like Newark, Ohio.

Which party will carve out this territory? 

Kotkin begs the question when he writes:
"Yet, there remains a great opportunity for either party that will appeal to, and appreciate, the suburban base. Conservative figures such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher understood the connection between democracy and property ownership and upward mobility. Much the same could be said for traditional Democrats, from Roosevelt and Harry Truman, all the way to Bill Clinton."

Let me tie this back to Ohio.

Suburbs are increasingly becoming independent places with their own identity and their own mix of culture and economy.  Newark, Ohio sits at the center of a suburban place with 44 miles of bike paths, three universities, a science museum, and a performing arts center that brings in national acts.

Suburbs are where manufacturing is located.  If Ohio remains the swing state it has been, manufacturing will be a buzz word again.  You can still find manufacturing workers and companies in the suburbs.

Suburbs are the next generation's home. Kotkin has, repeatedly, defied the conventional wisdom with facts.  The millennial generation, increasingly becoming an economic and voter force, has a greater overall desire to live in the suburbs than their parents' generation.  Newark is Ohio's 20th largest city and one of only two in the Top 20 that is growing.

Ignore the suburbs at your own risk.  That's Kotkin's early message and theme.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Can the 3D-Printed, Driverless Car Be Upon Us?

I love it when my issues converge like they sort of did recently.

This is Strati, a car printed live at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago last week. In 44 hours, this car was printed using a carbon fiber reinforced plastic material.

It was drivable at the IMTS show too. The Washington Post has an online report on it.


It makes you wonder, how long before 3D printers can spit out easy-to-assemble cars? How long, also, before that technology converges with driverless car technology? They really do make sense together--lightweight, easy-to-assemble, driverless cars.

I've written at length about 3D printing and, even, went about bringing it to Licking County for all to see at our science museum.

Our Port Authority sold a site that attracted a company, xperion, that engages in use of carbon fiber for lightweight manufacturing.

Lastly, I've pondered driverless cars and Ohio's capabilities in that arena.

Could Ohio be where all these technology advances converge? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Dad

My Dad died this day ten years ago.

Of all the things I learned from him, the Serenity Prayer sums up a good many of them.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Uplifting Manufacturing News With A Historical Flare

George H. W. Bush's late grandfather made headlines this past week.  Good headlines.

The company Samuel Prescott Bush founded, now known as Columbus Castings, announced an expansion on the south side of Columbus that could be summed up in one word:  Uplifting!

It's historic too.

500 jobs is uplifting news anywhere, but it's especially uplifting on Columbus' historically hard-hit South side.

It's uplifting and historic news when the Mayor of Columbus and Governor of Ohio, rightly, point out that this news is extraordinary because of the importance of manufacturing jobs. It means that some of our more urban-focused leaders are getting the point--manufacturing matters, where ever it happens to occur.

It's uplifting news when urban news media are awaken to the concept, as if it just occurred to them, that manufacturing is alive and has a brighter future ahead of it in Ohio and the U.S.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Avoiding the Density Mentality

I got a backhanded message from an urban colleague this week that I'll chalk up to a lesson.

Here's the story:  I was grateful to get a cleanroom referral from a more urban county colleague this week.  The person exchanged the entirety of an e-mail thread that included the notion that the Port Authority "is no longer in the middle of cow pastures."

Though the person may argue that the phrase was intended as a natural way to let the urban-oriented prospect know that, surprisingly, we have high tech operations in Licking County, it clearly reminded me of something that I've preached my whole career--innovation knows no population density.

I've been all over Ohio, and I know there is a density mentality that should be avoided. Urban areas look down their noses at suburbs, but we in the suburbs can tend to do the same to our more rural counterparts.  It's a trap that should be  avoided. 

If we underestimate people merely on how many people live per square mile in their community, we do so at our loss.  No one should be that dense.

Plus, proudly, there actually is a cow pasture not too far away from our clean room space.