Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Get Used To Growth, Ohio

Get used to growth, Ohio.

Whether it’s the two biggest capital investment announcements in Ohio history in 2022 or the very real statewide manufacturing resurgence, Ohio is on a trajectory for growth and opportunity which most Ohioans haven’t seen in our lifetimes.  Governor Mike DeWine is right to say, “It’s Ohio’s time.” 

Though the idea of getting used to growth could mean different things in different parts of our state, there’s clearly one thing in common:  Ohio is poised to grow in a way that hasn’t been experienced for generations. 

Manufacturing never truly left, but certainly the narrative about its importance to Ohio and the nation is back in a way that we can expect will continue.  “We are amidst a once-in-a-generation shift of global manufacturing footprints, and 2023 should continue to be a year of opportunity for manufacturers in the United States,” predicted national site consultant Michelle Comerford in January.  Axios reported that U.S. manufacturing growth at the end of 2022 outpaced the rest of the planet year-over-year, and the report added the comment, “for the first time in recent memory.” 

Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state.  Per capita, Ohio outpaces the other two. Therefore, national manufacturing growth equals Ohio manufacturing growth. 

Big cranes and big earth movers are the early signs of growth.  It’s great to see cranes are arriving and concrete is waiting to get poured at Intel’s Ohio fabs in Jersey Township in Licking County right now.  A drive by on Interstate 71 through Jefferson Township in Fayette County shows work has already begun for Honda as well.  

Jobs are the next sign.  Manufacturing employment in Ohio is very nearly back to pre-pandemic levels even before new hiring has started for the announced projects.  At least a quarter of Ohio’s counties are within commuting distance of the Intel and Honda sites. 

Manufacturing brings wider growth opportunities too. Some of the best jobs and tax base growth are with suppliers.  Intel already finds suppliers in 22 of Ohio’s 88 counties as they look to find more vendors in the state.  Honda boasts a supplier presence in 55 Ohio counties with the potential to widen. 

Getting ready for growth also means preparing to welcome back homesick Ohioans and new Ohioans.  Put out the welcome mat.  Over the years, Ohioans have been dispersed.  Job opportunities are the pathway back home.  

It’s already happening.  For two of the last three years, U-Haul has ranked Ohio in the top 10 states for growth when it looked at its rental truck trends as an indicator.  Returning to Ohio is a one-way U-Haul trip.

To me, a guy who grew up in a steel town that doesn’t make steel anymore, growth equates to opportunity.  I’m optimistic that my kids’ and my grandkid’s future opportunities to make a living in Ohio are better than they were when I grew up.  I am lucky to know Ohioans in all corners of our great state, and I’m certain that sort of parental aspiration is a statewide sensation.

 It will be great to get used to growth commonplace in Ohio.


This column is a regular development column for the Newark Advocate also submitted to The Columbus Dispatch.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Development News Predicts 2023 Opportunity

I’m a student of family history research.  I know that, in one branch of my family, my third great grandparents came to Ohio over 150 years ago from Germany.  Their granddaughter, my great grandmother, left the state but later came back.  In that same family branch, my grandfather left Ohio. He graduated high school and college on the West Coast but came back to Ohio 85 years ago.

Coming to Ohio, and coming back to Ohio, had a common reason among my ancestors.  The reason in every generation:  Opportunity.

I can’t help but think my personal family history trends could be a pattern for other families all over Ohio as the development announcement news of the last few years gets realized in job opportunities opening up. Ohio history has historical examples of windows of job opportunities that bring people to Ohio for the first time or homesick Ohioans back home for good. 

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine used his second inaugural remarks to call for legal immigrants and people interested in seizing opportunity to “come to Ohio.” The Governor is on to something. Use of his bully pulpit is spot on.

JobsOhio CEO J.P. Nauseef labels what we are experiencing in development announcements in Ohio as “generational opportunities.”  He’s right. 

2023 will be that year.  Licking County is at the heart of it.

New projects are getting more real.

Behr Paint will open a new building which will be the third largest on the Port Authority’s campus in Heath that boasts 80 years of manufacturing development.  The building will be ready this Summer.

Amgen’s building in Western Licking County is going up fast.  Little known fact:  Amgen is already hiring and quietly opened up in a new speculative-built industrial building in Heath last June.

Intel could start hiring in 2023, including internships with a promise of a permanent job when the facility is ready to open.  Follow 

It’s a good bet that those of us in the development community are focused on helping ensure our existing industry has the chance to grow too.

Boeing is at its highest employment level in over 20 years.  They’re still hiring at

Transcendia’s new building in Union Township looks great.  Jobs are there.

The list is long and wide in manufacturing in Licking County.

These now-emerging generational trends can continue as long as we continue to work, as a community and a state, to seize the opportunity before us. 

Let’s all make it our job.  Welcome homesick Ohioans back home. Welcome new Ohioans here. 

National author Joel Kotkin, who has been a frequent visitor to Ohio and Licking County, has his finger on the pulse of opportunity in manufacturing.  Kotkin recently wrote in a national column, “History is calling on North America, and the future depends on how we respond.” 

What a great time to be in Ohio.  What a great time to be in Licking County.


This column is a regular development column also appearing The Advocate.

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.  


This column is a regular development column also appearing The Advocate.