Sunday, July 17, 2022

Writing Our 2020’s Song About Growth

Songs from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s are part of my youth in more ways than one.


Now Main Street’s whitewashed windows

And vacant stores

Seems like there ain’t nobody

Wants to come down here no more

Bruce Springsteen’s My Hometown might as while have been about my hometown.  I grew up in a steel town that doesn’t make steel anymore.  Much of my classmates did what Springsteen sang about—packed up our bags, maybe heading south.

Springsteen sung a ballad about my father’s hometown too—Youngstown.  It’s a melancholy song of a declining place in a country that didn’t appreciate manufacturing and the nation’s cravings for steel.


Well my daddy came on the Ohio Works

When he came home from World War Two

Now the yards just scrap and rubble


Even Billy Joel got in the act too singing about decline in the ‘80’s.  Allentown was about Pennsylvania towns, but it spoke to many of us Ohioans back then.


Well we’re living here in Allentown

And they’re closing all the factories down

Out in Bethlehem they’re killing time

Filling out forms

Standing in line


My kids and grandkids (I’m grateful for one of those on the way.) won’t have the same tunes stuck in their heads that I did.  The lyrics about growth and progress are writing themselves in places like Newark and Licking County in the 2020’s. 

A whole new generation of song writers have new fodder of so-called “problems” in Ohio in the 2020’s—more jobs than people to fill them, more buyers than sellers of homes, and more interested industrial businesses than available industrial sites.

My generation has an obligation to remind later generations that these problems are not really problematic in comparison to the alternatives.  Trust me.  I watched decline, not just listened to it in songs.

It’s harder to figure out how to fund a shrinking school system than a growing one nearing capacity.  It’s a real task to rebuild old streets on a dime than pave new ones on a dollar.  Waiting for your job’s new electronic paycheck in your account beats waiting for the old paper unemployment check delivered to your porch.

I’ll suggest that Bruce could write about Intel.  It’s first new factory in decades is happening in Ohio.  Ground was broken in Licking County earlier this month to signal the realness of a whole new semiconductor industry coming to the Heartland.  Suppliers are already here in Ohio and the promise is more are on their way. These facts bring with it a new song of positive progress instead of an old song of stagnation.

Billy could write lyrics about blossoming manufacturing of all sorts like soy crisps at GB Food in Heath or polycarbonate at Covestro in Hebron.  I’d suggest song writers paint a picture about Behr paint soon to be made in Licking County or get fired up about gas compressor components assembled at the recently tripled-in-size Ariel plant.  The Tamarack Dairy milk plant is expanding.  So is the thin film plant owned by Transcendia.  Expansion story lines of the 2020’s sure beat the opposite story of U.S. manufacturing in the ‘80s.

Given decline or growth, who doesn’t choose growth for their kids and grandkids?

I think there really are some lyrics in there somewhere. Together, let’s sing about growth in the 2020’s in our hometown.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Licking County Manufacturer Workers Play Key National Security Roles


Historians in Licking County proudly remind of us local people who stood out militarily like Johnny Clem in the Civil War and Don Jakeway in World War II. There’s a lesser-known role that stands out too.  Unique to the World capabilities abound. Licking County workers can proudly boast being a part of manufacturing products that serve the national security of our country in many important ways.

Intel’s $20 billion investment Ohio announcement is a future case of our workforce’s role in national security important work but there are current examples too.

Missiles and Aircraft

For 60 years, guidance systems for missiles and aircraft have come through Licking County and the Aerospace & Technology Center campus. As many have remarked over the years, the Newark AFB helped a nation win the Cold War.  Boeing's guidance systems are maintained and remanufactured at Heath.  They fulfill a critical part of the strategic deterrence fleet. 



For 78 years, the aluminum coming out of the Kaiser Aluminum plant in Heath has served a national defense purpose.  This continues today with the plant’s unique heavy alloy aluminum making process crucial to defense industry products.


Testing Labs

MISTRAS Group performs non-destructive testing on materials in use for a variety of defense, space, and aviation purposes.  The materials tested in Heath end up on national security important equipment from Boeing airplanes to military rockets.



That’s metrology, not meteorology.  It’s not about weather, It’s about precision measurement. The Air Force Primary Standards Laboratory operated by Bionetics is the largest of the Pentagon's primary standards laboratories. Boeing's internal metrology operation is second largest within all of Boeing. Thus, combined, the metrology concentration is the largest of its kind in the World. It's the science of measurement and precision capabilities that separate our military from others around the globe. 


Baby Formula

The ongoing crisis of a shortage of baby formula pushed Nature's One's work to the forefront. The facility on James Parkway in Heath opened in June 2020 as the World's largest organic infant nutrition manufacturing facility. The pride comes through that the doubling of output is serving a timely, national purpose.



Two former Owens Corning engineers took their knowledge of advanced materials and created a composite armor made of fiberglass, ceramic, and other materials.  The result is armor made by Tencate and military helmets made by ArmorSource.



Chips already have a supply chain path to Licking County and have for decades. Momentive Performance in Union Township manufactures silicon quartz crucibles and tubing consumed in the making of semiconductors.  One could, rightly, say Licking County already plays a role in putting silicon in the Silicon Heartland nickname.

Now, Intel Ohio puts Licking County on the map with manufacturing of semiconductors slated for a 2025 opening. Intel has picked our community’s collective capabilities to invest in the manufacturing of products which secure our nation’s future. The result secures Licking County's place in restoring a manufacturing balance to the shores of the U.S. is extraordinary and crucial.

This list is just a start.  It truly is amazing and both a source of pride for our workforce and a source of patriotism for all of us that these roles exist in Licking County.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

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.