Sunday, April 17, 2022

Licking County Is a Microcosm for U.S. Manufacturing Growth


From missile guidance systems to baby formula and from plant-based food to semiconductors, Licking County is proving to be a microcosm of a U.S. manufacturing resurgence. The Licking County manufacturing story has displayed an envious range of manufacturing’s transformation. We truly are showing the rest of the U.S. what the future of manufacturing can look like.

Even before the huge international news of the $20 billion Intel semiconductor plant in Jersey Township, Licking County manufacturers were proving the national pundits wrong about manufacturing.  How?  For one, they’ve been growing job opportunities.

According to a July 2021 report from Ohio’s LMI Division, Licking County saw manufacturing jobs increase 41% between 2010 and 2019.  Much of the job growth at New Albany’s Western Licking County side in the last 15 years has been in manufacturing.  Manufacturers at the Port Authority’s Aerospace Center campus keep growing too, for example, adding a 25% net increase in jobs in the last two years.  Growth continues.

Site consultants say that places around the country that can provide a manufacturing culture, a manufacturing workforce, manufacturing-oriented educational infrastructure, and ready-to-go manufacturing sites in growth-minded communities are winning manufacturers’ investments.

These are also chief among the reasons Licking County is winning manufacturers’ investments.

STEM learning is part of that manufacturing mix.  Licking County has a track record in producing a STEM-skilled workforce. 

The recent STEMfest at The Works, the 13th year in a row of bringing industry and educators together with parents and kids, proved the point.  What science museum in the country wouldn’t be proud to brag the names of Boeing, Covestro, Goodyear, THK, Ariel, and Screen Machine on the event marquee as it was at The Works? 

Globalization is starting to take shape around the globe in a whole new form.  Reshoring of manufacturing was beginning before COVID but was accelerated by it.  According to the capital managers at BlackRock, the last 30 years of globalization are being proven a mistake.  Fears of overseas turmoil creating domestic economic turmoil makes U.S. production reshoring a national imperative. More and more this mantra will be true:  If you want to sell in the U.S., you must make it in the U.S.

Matching globalization trends is nothing new to Licking County.  National author Joel Kotkin wrote in 2010 about the reasons that the middle of country stood to host the return of manufacturing.  Licking County was a prominent part of his follow up reports that kept the issue front and center.  The author’s recent visit to Licking County was a precursor of more to come.

More than just be proud of being a microcosm, we need to seize upon the opportunity it presents.

The truth is that the recent years of manufacturing growth in Licking County, though vitally important, are lesser known.  Our challenge is to capitalize on the high-profile Intel news.  Now is our chance to grow our manufacturing workforce for all--Intel as well as our existing manufacturers.  There are great opportunities for our students to pursue well-paying, stable careers in manufacturing. 

It’s our time.  What a great time to be in Ohio.  What a great time to be in Licking County.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

No comments:

Post a Comment