Sunday, January 15, 2023

Development News Predicts 2023 Opportunity

I’m a student of family history research.  I know that, in one branch of my family, my third great grandparents came to Ohio over 150 years ago from Germany.  Their granddaughter, my great grandmother, left the state but later came back.  In that same family branch, my grandfather left Ohio. He graduated high school and college on the West Coast but came back to Ohio 85 years ago.

Coming to Ohio, and coming back to Ohio, had a common reason among my ancestors.  The reason in every generation:  Opportunity.

I can’t help but think my personal family history trends could be a pattern for other families all over Ohio as the development announcement news of the last few years gets realized in job opportunities opening up. Ohio history has historical examples of windows of job opportunities that bring people to Ohio for the first time or homesick Ohioans back home for good. 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine used his second inaugural remarks to call for legal immigrants and people interested in seizing opportunity to “come to Ohio.” The Governor is on to something. Use of his bully pulpit is spot on.

JobsOhio CEO J.P. Nauseef labels what we are experiencing in development announcements in Ohio as “generational opportunities.”  He’s right. 

2023 will be that year.  Licking County is at the heart of it.

New projects are getting more real.

Behr Paint will open a new building which will be the third largest on the Port Authority’s campus in Heath that boasts 80 years of manufacturing development.  The building will be ready this Summer.

Amgen’s building in Western Licking County is going up fast.  Little known fact:  Amgen is already hiring and quietly opened up in a new speculative-built industrial building in Heath last June.

Intel could start hiring in 2023, including internships with a promise of a permanent job when the facility is ready to open.  Follow 

It’s a good bet that those of us in the development community are focused on helping ensure our existing industry has the chance to grow too.

Boeing is at its highest employment level in over 20 years.  They’re still hiring at

Transcendia’s new building in Union Township looks great.  Jobs are there.

The list is long and wide in manufacturing in Licking County.

These now-emerging generational trends can continue as long as we continue to work, as a community and a state, to seize the opportunity before us. 

Let’s all make it our job.  Welcome homesick Ohioans back home. Welcome new Ohioans here. 

National author Joel Kotkin, who has been a frequent visitor to Ohio and Licking County, has his finger on the pulse of opportunity in manufacturing.  Kotkin recently wrote in a national column, “History is calling on North America, and the future depends on how we respond.” 

What a great time to be in Ohio.  What a great time to be in Licking County.


This column is a regular development column also appearing The Advocate.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Talking Points Memo

A gathering for Thanksgiving and the holidays is a time to talk about keeping our family in Ohio and persuading our homesick Ohio relatives to come back home.  It always is.

The case to be made is even stronger now than ever.

There are 20 billion new reasons in Ohio since last Thanksgiving to be making that point hit home.

Intel’s January 2022 announcement in Newark of a $20 billion investment promising 3,000 direct manufacturing jobs is taking shape before our eyes in Jersey Township, Western Licking County. As the Intel fabs take shape, the job opportunities will get closer and closer to reality too.

There’s no reason to wait for your persuasive message to your family members though.  Go for it!

When’s the right time?  Now.

I asked a training expert for the list of skills that Intel might be needing in the future.  Here’s the short list:  Robotics, Automation, Fabrication, Health and Safety, Mechanical, Electrical, Industrial Networking, Quality Control, HVAC, and Material Handling were among the needed skills on the list.

Guess what?  These skills are already needed with job opportunities with employers already in the job market.  Manufacturers may make different products, but their skill needs are very similar to each other.

The list of companies already here in Licking County is too long to list in this memo, but here’s just a few:  Hendrickson Auxiliary Axle Systems, Kaiser Aluminum, THK Manufacturing of America, Tech Tire, Holophane, Nature’s One, MISTRAS Group, Ariel Corporation, Owens Corning, Boeing, KDC/One, Anomatic, Covestro, Ampacet, Amgen, and Gathered Foods.

Pick on just one career field title—multi-craft maintenance.  The maintenance part is keeping equipment up and running.  The multi-craft part means skills in multiple areas of equipment.  

Every manufacturer needs multi-craft maintenance technicians.  Demand has never been greater.  The pay is tops among the top.

Where do you go to get some of these skills?  Close by.

C-TEC and Central Ohio Technical College are ready with the curriculum right now.  The training and educational capabilities of these two places has a long, proven track record for individuals in Licking County for decades.  

Employers know that and seek out graduates.

One example.  The Port Authority sponsored a new STEM scholarship at OSU-N and COTC this school year. One of the first students to find it is proving to be a rock star.  A young woman at one of our area manufacturers seized scholarships and is upping her skills to advance her career.  She proves that you can find the training and you can find the funding help to achieve.

It's all of our jobs to make sure our family members know what opportunities are being served up for them to stay in Ohio or come back to Ohio.

Don’t put whipped cream on that piece of pumpkin pie until you’ve made your case.  


This column is a regular development column also appearing The Advocate.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Five Development Thoughts


Just sharing some thoughts about development.

Ohio Just Keeps Winning.  Credit Governor Mike DeWine’s leadership.  

The recent $3.5 billion Honda and LG Energy Solution announcement to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles in Fayette County is another in a year-long string of big Ohio manufacturing development wins.  Intel in Licking County remains the biggest announcement in Ohio history, by far.  Better days are ahead.

National media had all but put a nail in the coffin for manufacturing and the Midwest, but Ohio keeps proving those pundits wrong, by the billions.  Winning sure beats the alternative.

Learn More About Reshoring Manufacturing.  There’s more to the story about why Ohio keeps winning.  Among the advance work was an early 2021 report from think tank Heartland Forward titled “Reshoring America:  Can the Heartland Lead the Way?” Besides the fact that manufacturing never left, the report made the case that the middle of the country, and Ohio in particular, was uniquely positioned to grow our manufacturing sector and the coveted manufacturing jobs. 

Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state and the one best-positioned to grow our middle class by growing manufacturing investment.  Our advantages in energy, water supply, STEM learning, transportation, and, most of all, hard working people are the keys.

Celebrate Diverse Local Wins Too.  Behr Paint is building a huge manufacturing facility in Heath on the Port Authority’s campus right now.  Behr’s $80 million investment has been quieter than some of the other Ohio wins, but it’s certainly worthy of much celebration.  Who doesn’t use paint?

Licking County enjoys a diverse manufacturing base with products ranging from plant-based seafood to semiconductors (fish to chips!). Keeping a focus on retaining and growing that diversity is key to a strong economy for decades to come.

Answer the FRAMEWORK Survey. The TJ Evans-convened public-private partnership has entered the grassroots phase of the visioning of a framework for Licking County’s future.  A stop at or finding FRAMEWORK at a local event in the coming weeks is the way to give input to the visioning effort underway.   The partnership wants to hear thoughts from all of us in Licking County in answer to the question—"What is most important to you?”

The pattern has been set.  Getting input at the grassroots is part of the approach FRAMEWORK will use throughout its work ahead.

Detour Around a Closed Cherry Valley Bridge.  Much of Central Licking County is already feeling the effects of the closure of the Cherry Valley Bridge.  18,000 cars and trucks a day have to go somewhere.  Of course, any novice review of the photos circulating that show a big crack in at least one of the 190-year-old bridge’s arches is all it takes to concede that closure was, absolutely, the right move.

We can find solace in the knowledge that the Newark and Licking County advocacy to get the bridge replaced with a new one at Thornwood Crossing was a right move too.  Imagine the wait if, on top of bidding and construction, there was the much longer wait to design and prepare to build.

There’s much to be thinking about in development in Licking County and Ohio these days. 

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


This column is a regular development column also appearing in The Advocate.