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.  

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.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

STEM Learning Inspires


The seventh grader brought the bridge he made from mere toothpicks to STEMFest at The Works.  His special needs school aide and parents came with him. 

He put his bridge under test to see if it could withstand the pressure.  Then, he put himself to the test too with the pressure of presenting in front of the judges and competition.

The tears running down his parents’ faces and those of many in the crowd proved that that kid had passed a new threshold of STEM learning that even those closest to him wondered whether he could pass.  He nailed it!

Though he didn’t win the competition that day, there’s no doubt he won a new path for himself with STEM learning at the heart of it.  Inspiring.

This inspiring story is repeated in Licking County throughout our history and now.

The Newark Rotary Club, 100 years ago, put on an industrial exposition to help the special needs children of our community.  An April 1921 Rotary event was an early example of helping our community prepare for industry while also helping our children of all capabilities excel.

This summer of 2022 was inspiring with a new way to connect industry and learners of all kinds.  PCA, Boeing, and Covestro technologists showed off their day-to-day STEM skills to an integrated audience of YMCA summer campers and YMCA All for One campers. 

I watched an All for One camper put together his PCA cardboard cutout faster than most and faster, certainly, than I could have grasped doing it.  His determination was inspiring.

STEM learning in Licking County is reaching a wider audience and special needs children are a part of the audience. 

It’s all happening at the right time.  STEM skills in Licking County are in demand.

Boeing is hiring.  There are 28 different jobs, many requiring engineering skills, available at right now.

Ohio Means Jobs Licking County is helping fill jobs at Ariel, Gathered Foods, and other STEM-skilled job creators. advertises over 10,000 jobs within 50 miles with the keyword engineer included.

Plus, who hasn’t heard of that chipmaker coming to Licking County? Intel craves STEM skills.

These are my three suggestions for considering adding STEM learning to your children’s and your own educational backgrounds:

 1.    Take part in STEMfest at The Works.  The early March competition starts this Autumn by picking the industry challenge, forming a team, and preparing to both understand the science plus tell the STEM story too.  The Works is a spark to STEM learning and has a track record of more than 14 years at inspiring youth to STEM careers.

 2.    Sign up for your school systems’ STEM programs.  Many of our Licking County schools have STEM learning programming in addition to the regular curriculum.  For example, Newark City Schools offers pre-engineering to elementary school kids now.  Their STEM summer camps are a must-do.

 3.    Inspire STEM learning in your home.  Call it STEM literacy.  I heard a stat once that four of five Nobel Prize winners were inspired outside of the classroom.  Seek out programming at Dawes or other STEM learning venues.  Look for that possible inspiration to a STEM career through exposure to a wide variety of STEM learning options.

I know from personal experience that STEM learning is an inspiration for a better future for all Licking Countians.  I know, because I’ve been inspired by our youth.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.

See The Advocate story "Buckeye Family YMCA Holding STEM Camps, Learning Opportunities" for more.