Friday, August 13, 2021

Newark Boosts Population, Rises in City Ranks


The 2020 U.S. Census numbers have been published now.

As expected, Newark has risen on the list of Ohio's most populated cities from 20th in 2010 to 18th with 2020 Census results.

Newark remains the second largest city in growing Central Ohio.  

Here's the updated 2020 Census rankings as compared to 2010.

With a 5% population gain, Newark has a 49,934 population.  That's quite an achievement.  World Population Review estimates have tended to show Newark having crossed the 50,000 population threshold. 

Some cities in the bottom quarter rank of Top 20 cities surprised the estimators in a good way.  Cuyahoga Falls, Middletown, and Cuyahoga Falls were seeing estimates with populations falling under 50,000 but found Census numbers holding them above that population number.

The last few years have aided Ohio's largest cities in population.  Overall, cities in the Top 20 did better than the earlier trends showed.  Ten of the 20 cities saw population gains versus 2010.  Estimates in 2016 had as few as three in that category.

Congratulations, Newark Mayor Jeff Hall on the news front.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Confessing a Manufacturing Bias


I confess.  I have a bias toward manufacturers. 

The reasons for my bias can be found in the numbers. 

Manufacturing provides the highest-paying jobs and is the economic core of our local and state tax base.  Plus, contrary to national media and conventional wisdom in some places around the country, there’s also growing evidence manufacturing can be a bigger part of our future in Ohio.

The story is supported by the numbers.

A July 2021 report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services showed Licking County added over 9,300 jobs in manufacturing since 2010.  That’s a more than 40% increase!  This same report shows the manufacturing sector remains the largest in Licking County and is growing wages. 

The Port Authority’s Aerospace Center kept that trend going with a 13% employment increase in 2020 and a highly competitive $77,000 average annual wage.  Owens Corning is preparing for a growing future with a massive new distribution facility under construction in proximity to their Newark plant. Boeing signed a lease extension through the end of the decade with options to 2043 to accommodate its growth plans. 

It’s everywhere.  Manufacturing-related expansions have already been announced for Amgen in New Albany, Lear in Hebron, and Transcendia in Union Township. 

Central Licking County hosts one of the largest concentrations of manufacturing in the state, making everything from missile guidance systems to baby formula and from pine tree extracts to linear motion equipment.  It’s home to an engineering- and technician-level employment mix too.  Covestro boats one-day turnaround of new products. Goodyear’s next generation tires germinate out of Hebron.

Statewide, the Ohio Manufacturing Association mirrors these facts.  OMA’s Manufacturing Counts report shows it is the largest industry sector with a 17% percentage of Ohio GDP and Ohio’s highest payroll at $43 billion annually.  The tax base of our state depends, as it has for decades, on a robust manufacturing base.  Ohio ranks third in the nation in manufacturing.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine keeps churning out major manufacturing announcements bringing job opportunities to all of Ohio, from the Lake to the River.  Led by suburban and exurban manufacturing growth, Ohio has ranked number one per capita among the states for project announcements two years in a row by Site Selection magazine.

JobsOhio provided incentive packages for retaining a new headquarters and research center for manufacturer Sherwin Williams in Cleveland and Peloton with plans to build a massive 2,000+ jobs new production facility in northwest Ohio.  PureCycle is investing $363 million at a new plastics operation slated for location between Ironton and Portsmouth on the Ohio River.

Internationally, the U.S. competes with China, Germany, and Japan for the world share of GDP.  World Trade Organization projections have shown that working-age population is declining in all these GDP competitor countries.  Couple these numbers with a pandemic-inspired eye opener of the need to source materials and supply chains closer to home, the U.S. is poised to grow manufacturing in places that are poised to accept it.  Ohio is ready.

The numbers add up to strong reasons to continue to have a bias toward manufacturers.


This development column is a monthly column in The Advocate.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Tackling Workforce Issues, Together

 “Why would you want to do that?”  The question still lingers nearly 25 years later in my mind.  An Eastern Ohio restaurant owner uttered this statement to a business prospect looking to locate less than a mile away with 300 new jobs.  The guy didn’t kill the deal, but his remarks certainly didn’t help.

I have long subscribed to the concept that everyone has a role in economic development.  It’s not just elected officials and development administrators, but all of us who have a role in attracting and retaining jobs. 

As the nation collectively experiences a workforce challenge, the pivotal issue right now is the ability for a local community to prove it can find workers. Expansions by our existing companies and new investments to the area hang in the balance.  It’s in tackling workforce issues where future-changing investments will be won or lost.

Part of the workforce issue is a demographic one.  Retirements are outpacing new additions to the labor force. Ohio has watched the number of Ohioans who turn 65 grow from 19 per day in 2010 to five times that in recent years. 

Even though we may not realize it or believe it, Licking County employers enjoy a demographic advantage.  According to Ohio unemployment statistics, there are more people in our county labor force in April 2021 than there were in April 2019.  Few can say that.

I’m thinking about the roles for all of us to take, together, in our community in tackling workforce issues.

Nagging Parent: Chief among the reasons to be seeking a better job is that companies are hiring.  Parents, family, and friends of potential job seekers have a major role to play.  Manufacturing careers are among the highest-paying and, as the pandemic shows, the most stable and essential.  Manufacturers are hiring.  Don’t be shy.  Share the news.  Go ahead.  Nag.

Upskilling Encourager:  At a time like now where job seekers have a decided advantage across from the interview table, there is no better time to encourage our family members and friends to up their skills.  Industrial maintenance is a big one to consider.

Credential Seeker:  Companies in Licking County are offering their existing employees a chance to gain credentials through Ohio’s TechCred program, for example.  C-TEC soon offers another round of pre-employment manufacturing certifications with scholarships available to those who seek it out early.

Industry has the biggest roles.

Intentional Partner:  Industry in Licking County needs to join forces to make their workforce demands intentional and known.  Partner with OhioMeansJobs Licking County to conduct targeted job fairs and then promise to hire from those who turn out.  C-TEC can attract more to its credentialing programs if those students know successful credentialing translates to a clear chance at a better job.

Retention Focuser:  A recent Chamber of Commerce gathering of manufacturers was right on with a concept that hit close to home.  One company shared, while others nodded in agreement, that the focus needs to be on retaining existing employees.   It is time to reexamine payroll and human resources policies that aren’t competitive.

No economy churns like this forever.  The pent-up demand from the pandemic will run its course, in time.  Let’s not wait for a recession to solve these workforce issues.

There’s a lot of chatter about workforce issues right now.  Let’s tackle them with action.  Together.


This development column is a monthly column in The Advocate.