Sunday, November 21, 2021

EcoMOMic Development Depends on Thanksgiving Dinner Talk About Returning Home


Call it EcoMOMic development.  Families have an extra job this Thanksgiving Dinner.  Don’t let your holiday visitors leave without talking to them about a return home.

Homesickness has a cure.  Moving home!

There are job opportunities in Licking County and Ohio that make that easier right now.  Unfilled jobs are unfulfilled economic growth potential upon which Licking County’s future depends. It’s, therefore, all our jobs to promote job opportunities.

Talk about three reasons to help family feel more ready to return.

Higher paying job opportunities are emerging.  In July, Ohio labor market reports showed Licking County manufacturing jobs grew 40%, adding over 9,300 jobs since 2010.  Those reports showed the manufacturing sector remains the largest in Licking County, with growing wages too.

Reshoring and onshoring of manufacturing are contributing to future trends.  New Albany’s Beauty Park in Western Licking County is a shining national example of where overseas manufacturing has successfully returned to U.S. shores. Statewide, JobsOhio has seen five large projects announced of products being made in Ohio, including Peloton bikes and American Nitrile gloves.

Diverse industrial development is happening.  Licking County enjoys a diversity of industry that is unparalleled.  Our job base is not dependent on one or two large employers.  The manufacturers hiring include well-known companies making a wide range of products with openings at all skill levels. Owens Corning, THK, Covestro, Lear, Hendrickson, Ariel, Samuel, Boeing, and Goodyear are among the mix.  They aren’t alone. In fact, the list hiring is too long to name them all. 

Talk about diversity.  Six plant-based food industry companies have found their way to Central Licking County making everything from baby formula and plant-based seafood to soy crisps and sterols.  Plant-based food is the fastest-growing segment of the food industry.

STEM jobs are all the rage.  One of Licking County’s largest engineering and technology skills employers, Boeing, secured an 18-year, $1.6 billion contract extension that brought news of economic stability.  Boeing anchors the Port Authority campus which saw 20+ employers combine to increase employment 13% in 2020 despite the crisis.  Sparked in part by a homesick Ohioan, Amgen recently broke ground for 400 biomedical-related jobs in Western Licking County.  There’s more to come.

I suggest talking about two actions to take.

Stop by OhioMeansJobs Licking County.  Licking County’s workforce services are a gem and a big part of why the county agency received and maintains a stand-out national accreditation.  In fact, most of the workforce customers for the one stop operation are job seekers already employed but looking to upgrade in this labor market.  Just stop by 998 E. Main Street in Newark or visit 

Seek out upskilling.  That ticket back home may be just one more credential or skill away from being a reality. C-TEC, Central Ohio Technical College, and Ohio State – Newark offer job training opportunities for job seekers.  Denison has joined in too with Denison Edge, a new approach to career-readiness offerings. is a launching pad for resources, including a cool tool for exploring career options. 

Just stick to it.  Don’t stop after the pumpkin pie.  Keep the important EcoMOMic development work going long past the holidays.  Licking County’s future depends on it!


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Celebrating a STEM Skills Workforce


“The facility’s most important element is people.”  These were the words of Air Force General Mark Bradley inaugurating the then-new Newark Air Force Base in 1962. 

Nearly sixty years later, Bradley’s words are truer than ever.

Twenty-five years ago, when Boeing, the Air Force, and Bionetics - DESG joined with the Port Authority in embarking on a new approach for which there was no roadmap, it was clear the STEM-skilled workforce would continue to be the most important element.

We know, and it should not be forgotten, that of all the reasons that were behind why the work of a closed Newark AFB couldn’t just march off to some other distant place, the most critical of those reasons was workforce.  Wise people like the Port Authority’s Wally Horton and base commander Colonel Joe Renaud then asked, “Would the skills to maintain one-of-a-kind equipment move with the equipment?”  Many rightly pondered, “Could the knowledge from thirty years of remanufacturing precision instruments be replaced elsewhere?”

We’ve never had to answer those hard questions because of a partnership that we celebrate today.

This is a place critical to our local economy but also critical to the national defense.  Availability of STEM skills has made the Central Ohio Aerospace & Technology Center (the renamed Newark AFB) able to continue to achieve unmatched precision and accuracy--the equivalent of a pencil point on a football field levels of accuracy. 

Key to maintaining the important work here was maintaining the important workforce skills here.

Fearing the local consequences of a national statistic that once indicated 80% of parents discouraged their kids from science and technology careers, the Port Authority has made STEM learning a major focal point of our development efforts.  Partnered with The Works and many others in the community, the Port Authority and our customers have made it our collective jobs to provide a dash of local relevance to the recipe for science, technology, engineering, and math skills to be a Licking County emphasis.

Today’s commemorative event isn’t just about looking back.  It’s about paying forward with attention to the future.

Strategically, the Port Authority is doubling down on STEM learning in Licking County.  The Port Authority’s Board has promised $1 million dollars over the next 20 years to a new STEM Scholarship.  The Aerospace Center workforce and Licking County students at COTC and OSU-Newark will be the beneficiaries of a scholarship being funded today.

STEM learning efforts with The Works started more than a dozen years ago.  There are people in the workforce today able to seize job opportunities in STEM careers as a result of those seeds planted long ago.  These national model efforts will continue with vigor.  It’s ingrained in Licking County—STEM skills matter.

An aim to broaden the reach is also being sparked.  In partnership with the YMCA’s All-for-One camp, the Port Authority aims to bring STEM learning to more members of our community.  Integrated summer camps which include special needs children being exposed to the uplifting promise of STEM skills needs to be part of a brighter future for our community.

Let’s all celebrate our STEM skills workforce.  The occasion of 25 years since October 1, 1996 when uncertainty and doubts about the future ruled the day has been replaced with much better sensations--ones of stability and growth. 

STEM learning and a STEM-skilled workforce are behind those sensations and will remain well into our future.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Newark Boosts Population, Rises in City Ranks


The 2020 U.S. Census numbers have been published now.

As expected, Newark has risen on the list of Ohio's most populated cities from 20th in 2010 to 18th with 2020 Census results.

Newark remains the second largest city in growing Central Ohio.  

Here's the updated 2020 Census rankings as compared to 2010.

With a 5% population gain, Newark has a 49,934 population.  That's quite an achievement.  World Population Review estimates have tended to show Newark having crossed the 50,000 population threshold. 

Some cities in the bottom quarter rank of Top 20 cities surprised the estimators in a good way.  Cuyahoga Falls, Middletown, and Cuyahoga Falls were seeing estimates with populations falling under 50,000 but found Census numbers holding them above that population number.

The last few years have aided Ohio's largest cities in population.  Overall, cities in the Top 20 did better than the earlier trends showed.  Ten of the 20 cities saw population gains versus 2010.  Estimates in 2016 had as few as three in that category.

Congratulations, Newark Mayor Jeff Hall on the news front.