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.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Intel Amongst Us: We All Play a Part in Welcoming $20 Billion Investment

“What’s the blue light special?”

As an economic development guy, I was horrified at the thought of all that could go wrong.  Walmart executives, lacking a local Walmart store to stop at in Steubenville in 2001, went to the local Kmart to get the feel for the workforce and community.  They asked one worker to explain this technique for sparking impulse buying among Kmart shoppers

It was as if the fate of hundreds of jobs in Eastern Ohio rested in the hands of one person.  That’s because it did.

I witnessed as the gentleman was respectful and more than happy to explain.  He did a great job.  Little did he know what role he played and, if he had had a bad day or behaved differently, how he could have turned the story for the worse.

Three months later, the community would receive the incredible economic news that a new $75 million Walmart Food Distribution Center would be built.  Today, it’s the largest economic base employer with 800 employees in Jefferson County, Ohio.

It’s always been my personal example of how everyone in the community has a role in economic development.  Everyone.

I have some new stories on the heels of this recent Intel announcement. Intel is amongst us. 

A visitor to a local museum questioned his host about natural sites and the history of Licking County.  After the Intel announcement went off last month, the host connected the dots.  The visitor was identified as working with Intel and have Licking County connections.

The informal tour and chance encounter could have been a turning point.

Just a few days into the new year, a big bus stopped at the Midland Theater and other venues in Newark.  Mine was the only local, familiar face.  No names were shared.  No corporate wear was spotted.  No business cards were handed out.  I’m sure many wondered what was going on.  The bus was the event crew for Intel and state officials scouting out locations for a then-upcoming announcement. 

Though the deal was a done deal, the announcement venue was certainly not decided.  All local stops showed the sort of capability that has long been our county’s mantra—big enough to have the resources, yet small enough to care about one company at a time.

The rest, as they say, is history.  The Midland and Newark will be forever associated with Intel and the day Ohio’s largest economic development project ever was announced.

What happened between June and January that could have been our local equivalent of the blue light special quiz?  A shopper at Granville Milling in Johnstown.  A pet owner at the Kennel Club in Jersey Township.  Hikers at Blackhand Gorge.  Guests at Cherry Valley Hotel.  There have been numerous past encounters that could have been the turning point too. 

There will be more in the future. 

The role we all play in economic development will continue.  The community has the opportunity to capitalize on the $20 billion Intel news, gain on Intel’s plans to grow their investment to $100 billion, and attract supplier facilities.  It will take all of us.


This development column is a regular column in The Advocate.