Sunday, October 29, 2023

C-TEC Integrated Part of Family, Workplace, and Economy

One day, we got a call.
  “We have an opening in the preschool.”  As a dad of triplets, I said, “Call me when you have three!”

C-TEC called back.  The program leadership saw the value of giving two years’ worth of childcare students a chance to list triplets experience on their resumes.  My youngest kids got their first chance to get to know C-TEC at four years old.

It wasn’t the last.

My son would go on to graduate from the high school engineering program.  Proving the value of career technical training, he’s now employed in a laboratory and nearly ready to fly the proverbial nest.

C-TEC marks 50 years.  For many of those years, I can recite how C-TEC, and its variety of programming, has integrated into my family, workplace, and our local economy. 

Certifications and recertifications matter.  Over the years, the Port Authority has employed C-TEC grads.  Our operations coordinator, Bill Wright, got both a C-TEC high school diploma and, later on, a certification in networking through C-TEC.  Networking wasn’t even a thing when he graduated.  Now, it’s an essential credential. Our whole team has gotten office skills training.

Customized industry training matters.  One of our Port Authority Board members, Fred Paul, first came to work with C-TEC when he was in the local manufacturing industry.  Later, he switched teams to join the C-TEC customized training side as the training-industry connector.  That effort put C-TEC on the map locally, really nationally, in the all-important pre-employment training realm.  C-TEC’s approach has been a national model many have duplicated for decades.

That thing about being a national model can’t be overemphasized.  I tagged along a couple years ago when a national author, Joel Kotkin, was seeking to shine a spotlight on the people and places where career technical training was matching up with the growing manufacturing sector.  He specifically asked to go to C-TEC.   The school’s students and programs were the magnet for Kotkin’s City Journal article soon after.  Great story.

Career readiness matters. Air Force Colonel Vicki Reed, retired commander of AFMETCAL, one of our customers on the Port Authority campus, stayed in Licking County.  Now, she’s connecting the students with industry for work experiences that are rooted in keeping the talent right here after graduation.

Add unique experiences to the list of what matters.  Senator Sherrod Brown’s team lent his power to convene to encourage STEM and manufacturing camps reaching middle school kids. C-TEC stepped up years ago.  Last Summer, the middle schoolers got to tour a cleanroom and witness testing labs at work.  Most adults never get that sort of experience on their checklists.

Workforce impact matters. Workforce readiness translates to economic impact.   C-TEC has smoothed the path for our existing companies to upskill their existing workforce.  Every successful manufacturer in town can recite how C-TEC has helped fulfill their workforce needs.  Ariel Corporation, with a plant in Heath, has brought on a workforce from about every level of the working age with C-TEC at their side. Ariel’s location and expansion in Licking County is greatly owed to that workforce impact.

It matters to every company and every prospect.  In my role, I’m always pitching to potential job creators the capabilities of Licking County to deliver on a hard-to-deliver promise of providing a skilled workforce.  Companies need to find skills available now and into the future.  C-TEC is part of that pitch with all of these capabilities. 

I know my personal story is replicated in other families and workplaces too.

The C-TEC 50-year story is an all Licking County story.


This column was submitted for publication in the Newark Advocate supplement celebrating 50 years of C-TEC.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

What Do Organic Baby Formula and Latex Paint Have in Common? Made in Licking County


Bobbie, an organic infant formula company, recently acquired a Licking County manufacturing plant it called “the most innovative infant formula manufacturing facility in the U.S.”  Nature’s One, Bobbie’s July acquisition target, has been in Licking County for over three years and ramped up production during the baby formula crisis.  They are little known locally.

Licking County hosts manufacturers bringing a diverse array of products to the International stage.  Companies are focused on selling products to the world, and they have found it hard to grab the local spotlight.

The story of diverse manufacturing in Licking County is, often, a hidden story.  For the sake of inspiring a future generation to pursue the broad job opportunities that are here, we all benefit from knowing more about what’s right here in our backyards.

For almost ten years now, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s product development center has been the darling of the tire world.  Yet, few know that development of new tire innovations take place in Hebron.  A few parents and students may remember, Goodyear led a STEM competition at The Works one year to tell their story.

Screen Machine has been making giant, rock crushing machines in Etna from design to road ready for some time.  Their product has done its job on every continent but for, maybe, Antarctica. 

Neurxstem is conducting research to develop a test diagnosing brain tissue reactions.  Who knew? Only after Congressman Balderson visited and the generated front page story in The Advocate caught a Heath mom’s attention, did a local guy find out that his skills were needed in his hometown.                             

Where synthetic food additives are discouraged, as in the European Union, the pine tree extract manufactured at Arboris in Newark is in great demand as a cholesterol-lowering ingredient in many foods.  Soy crisps, an ingredient to give crunch and protein to popular protein bars, come out of the GB Food factory in Heath.  GB is a European-Asian joint venture that first set up their shingle in the U.S. in 2016.  Gathered Foods followed GB in 2017 and makes international headlines for their plant-based seafood products.  Locally known?  Not so much.

It’s also little known, but a fact that the first silicon products to come out of Licking County won’t be from Intel.  Momentive Performance manufactures silicon quartz tubing and crucibles consumed in making semiconductors and photovoltaic solar panels.  They’ve been in Union Township for decades.

Kaiser’s hot rolled aluminum line, Boeing’s missile guidance systems unit, the Air Force’s metrology labs, Owens Corning’s research campus, and Covestro’s product development center are just a few more of the unique-to-the-world capabilities right here in Licking County.

Soon, Behr Paint will begin manufacturing latex paint in their new facility in Heath.  Behr’s television commercials make the brand known around the U.S., but the large, new facility has gone quietly forward over the last two years practically unnoticed.  I’m hopeful Behr’s good news tale won’t get painted over when they open production early next year.

It’s the diversity of manufacturing that is one of the greatest strengths of our local economy, labor market, and tax base in Licking County.  This strength is to be celebrated!


This column is a regular development column for The Newark Advocate.


Saturday, June 24, 2023

The Case For Thornwood Corridor Improvements



The Cherry Valley Bridge was shut down for more than half a year, and the reverberations were felt across several communities.  Those among us who weren’t sure we needed a new bridge, got their minds changed quickly.

The case for improvements to the Thornwood Drive Corridor are more than relieving the pain from a bridge shut down, though. 

Consider these points:


We Need to Get Prepared for Future Growth

Manufacturing is coming back to our shores and Licking County is a microcosm of this reshoring.  Our Port Authority campus in the heart of the Thornwood Corridor has seen a 40% increase in jobs in the last three years.

Intel benefits.  Traffic engineers tout the fact that the shortest distance and time of travel between Intel and points east, is the Thornwood Corridor.  Improvements will only make that through-flow of traffic for Intel suppliers stronger.  It’s notable that the first new Intel supplier in Ohio is located in a building in the Thornwood Corridor.

Getting the improvements to the Thornwood Corridor moving are critical to continuing to capitalize on the economic benefits of reshoring. 


Uncle Sam Has a Role

When jobs come back to our country, it’s the federal government that has the most to gain in tax growth.  Reshored jobs increase the U.S. tax base and manufacturing jobs strengthen the heart of our national economy.

So, it’s totally appropriate that Congressman Troy Balderson and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown were successful in getting $4 million appropriated for Newark in the recent federal budget.  These efforts are a big help to fund the next big Thornwood Corridor project.

When the final state budget comes out, we’ll be hopeful that additional state funding has been secured which will allow the corridor to advance sooner rather than later.

Local funding can close the gap.  The Port Authority has volunteered to help.


We Need to Answer Existing Companies’ Growth Demands

Though the news of 70 diverse companies making investments and creating jobs over decades doesn’t get the attention one big announcement can, the impact is no less vital at local, state, and national levels.

A recent look at the five industrial parks in the Corridor makes the case for devoting attention to getting the Thornwood Corridor advanced:

·       There are 1,600 acres with more than 500 acres ready to go for future, manufacturing-oriented development.

·        Manufacturing brings the highest-paying jobs and the combined $385 million payroll stands out.

·         Already, there are over 8,500 people employed in the Corridor with more jobs on the way.

·        The Corridor’s companies combine to over 10 million square feet of mostly manufacturing space.  It’s the largest manufacturing corridor in Central Ohio with a diverse mix of companies.

If population matters, we have that too.  Consider the fact that, if Granville, Newark, Heath, and Hebron were combined, they would rank as the seventh-largest City in Ohio.

Join us.  Supporters in the Corridor aren’t asking for a four-lane, divided highway.  We are asking for a safer and sensible route for our people and our freight to travel.  The case is clear.


This column is a regular development column for the Newark Advocate.