Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

They've already rotted and gone out with the trash, but the jack o' lanterns that adorned our porch were made by my kids for Halloween.

At least they still have the candy left.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The View From Across the Pond

Andy sent me a column out of the UK aimed at delivering a wakeup call to European policy makers. For us Americans, it doubles as an upbeat way of looking at a brighter U.S. future.

It's a shame one has to go to an outside the U.S. to get an upbeat perspective. Glad I did though.

The piece combines the trends of reshoring of manufacturing with the shale gas boom for a combined futuristic look at the U.S. economy.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's popular column recited a stat I hadn't seen: "Some fifty new projects have been unveiled in the US petrochemical industry. A $30bn investment blitz in underway in ethelyne and fetilizer plants alone."

He found this tidbit somewhere too and shared it: "America looks poised to become the world’s biggest [oil] producer in 2014. It will approach the Holy Grail of 'energy independence' before the end of the decade."

I liked this one too: "The implications are momentous. America will no longer need a single drop of oil from the Islamic world."

Thanks for sharing, Andy. Thanks for writing, Ambrose.

Friday, October 26, 2012

STEM, Over Lunch

STEM Over Lunch is a program of The Works as part of its national model STEM initiative.  Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math are the topic for the speed dating version of matching up science teachers and companies that care about STEM.

Year 2 of the event took place yesterday with science teachers from all of Licking County's school districts and nine companies, including Port Authority Aerospace Center customers UTC Aerospace Systems and Boeing. 

This is an effort worth repeating.

The science teachers get to hear it straight from the companies and, in one sitting, they get the variety of manufacturers and other STEM skill consumers.

The companies get a chance to talk to those who are educating their future workforce.

Licking County is right sized to do this sort of thing.  We are big enough to have the resources to pull something like this off with a science museum to coordinate it and companies in sufficient numbers to support it.  We are also, though, small enough to be able to connect up companies and schools in a way that makes a difference on a one-to-one basis.

This is one more way that STEM at The Works, works.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Life in a Swing State: Erasing Rust Belt Term Forever

In a dozen days, this Presidential election will all be over and the proverbial spotlight will leave Ohio.  Ohio's recovery begins November 7, or so we hope.

Job One is to go about erasing the term "Rust Belt" forever.  It's time to end use of this two four-letter-word combination.

A Google search reports over 2.3 million items when one looks for the "Ohio Rust Belt" phrase. Yahoo actually claims over 9.8 million for the same search.

All these negative associations surely don't help our collective psyche as a state or our vision as a strong place to invest in for our economic development interests.

Erasing the term won't be easy, but erasing it we must do.

Make it irrelevant.  Though we seem to have hit a bit of an economic equivalent of a speed bump of late, the resurrection of manufacturing in Ohio is really the best way to erase use of the term from the journalistic vernacular.  Rust belt is a pejorative, but there are some that claim we can reverse that thinking with economic gains and make rust belt chic.  I hope they are right.

Push an alternative.  I've written a thesaurus entry with some suggestions like America's Metals Heartland or the Industrial Midwest.  A few national columnists have slowly been dropping it from their dictionaries, notably Joel Kotkin

Get decisive, as a state.  If Ohio would just stop being so middle of the road on presidential elections, there would be several million less reasons for Ohio to be the subject of national news stories with a negative tone in them. 

Let's stop being a swing state!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Life In A Swing State: Fair Scrutiny? Not!

One of the many downsides of being in a Swing State is the scrutiny it brings, often unfair scrutiny at that.

Here's one example.

Sunday, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a piece looking at companies that took stimulus money but chose to donate to President Obama's opponent or his opponent's party.  The piece seemed to take the tone that those companies are hypocrites for taking the government cash the ARRA program dangled while putting their personal cash into campaigns that target the ARRA program's top champion.

That's unfair scrutiny for those companies and for Ohio. 

Should only givers to President Obama be the ones that received stimulus dollars?  If so, what would that say about the ARRA program's intentions?

What if another writer took that logic one step further and declared that the ARRA stimulus money should have only gone to places that voted for President Obama in 2008?  Should people who drive on the new asphalt put down on roadways paid for with stimulus dollars only be Democrats?

That's flawed logic.  I'm crying foul on this one. 

I hope this article wasn't inspired by the President's campaign. I suspect if Ohio wasn't still in play politically, we would have never seen this piece of work make the light of day.

Such is life in a swing state.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Inventor Legacy

Newark is where fiberglass was invented by Dale Kleist.  See the piece on post humous inductions into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame.

It's also why the Smithsonian chose a partnership of The Works and Owens Corning, naming our local science museum one of six Places of Invention in a nationwide pilot project.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Manufacturing Legacy

Newark was once the nation's top stove manufacturer. Though stove-making is gone, the skill set remained and continues today.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Our Next Generation Politician

2012 has some milestone firsts for my daughter, Brynley, should she become a politician some day.

Her first door-to-door canvassing was in February.  She and her brothers knocked on dozens of doors in our ward, especially those of identified undecided voters, to push for the park district levy.  It was a lesson for them, and the stats showed they likely made a difference.

She toured the White House for the first time this August.  She showed amazing diplomatic skills by not saying anything bad about the current occupant of the place either, despite what she might possibly have somehow overheard.

Wednesday, she won her first election.  Brynley was elected Student Council Alternate for her elementary school's fourth grade class.  She helped the boy who is also an alternate with her get some votes.  Guess she needed a lesson on voting a bullet!

She's first eligible to run for President in 2040.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Latest on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has upgraded its profile for companies offering.  Above is the latest Port Authority profile.

It includes a photo, update area, and product listing too.

While our Facebook page for the Port Authority has 550+ followers, we have only managed 20 for LinkedIn.  Guess we have some work to do there.

Consider following

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Friends in Gorge Places

This is a photo from around this time a year ago at Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve.

Two advocacy things today.

One, go visit the Gorge.  The leaves are at a peak.  You won't regret it.

Two, join Friends of Blackhand Gorge.  The Friends group is doing great things to make Blackhand Gorge a better place to visit.

It's good to have friends in gorge places.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What? No Manufacturing Skills Gap?

A USA Today article Monday cites a Boston Consulting Group study examining the manufacturing skills gap.  Essentially, the reports says there isn't one.

It's noteworthy that no Ohio metro areas showed up among the handful of places BCG said had a skills gap.

The clamor about a gap is noted it "can be managed" and higher wages are part of how.

I'm told BCG cites multi-craft maintenance, engineering, and welding among skills areas where a skills gap is, indeed, identified as a true skills gap.

I'd conclude this:  This is a debate worth continuing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Housing and Unemployment Rate Link Examined

Steve Layman's blog examines the link between single family housing starts and umployment rates today.  Interesting chart that makes you want to read, isn't it?

Read Jobs and Houses for more.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Ohio-Native Meadow Project: Year One


A year ago, the Port Authority began a demonstration project that was the product of a brainstorming session at The Wilds on what basic things we could do to improve the campus setting for our customers' personnel at the Aerospace Center.  We called it the Ohio-Native Meadow project. 

We took about an acre of land that was undevelopable.  It sat too close to the creek and right under a high voltage transmission power line.

Yet we still had to maintain it.  It got mowed weekly, yet it was only seen by security cameras and walkers by.

So we copied what we saw at The Wilds and followed the lead set by The Dawes Arboretum and planted a meadow with a seed mix consistently of only Ohio-native wildflowers and grasses.

From our research, we knew it would take a while.  Most sources said it would take a couple of years to really take.  And that's proven true, especially in a drought year.

But it's already proven to be a good project that we'll probably look to duplicate.

We don't have to mow it, except to cut it down once a year as part of a proper maintenance plan.  That has allowed us to keep lawn maintenance costs flat and spare a few carbon molecules from less fuel consumption.

And it's a nice, quiet setting too.

I've not done this yet, but, in theory, I could go out from my office and conduct business from there.  I can transfer my phone to my iPhone or iPad and be checking e-mail, surfing the web, and taking and making phone calls as if I was right at my desk.

Pretty cool.  See the video for more.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Family Story With a Point

My Dad was a good father.  There's one thing he shouldn't have done though.

He knows how much my brothers and I hated shopping and going to the Mall.  So, one day, to get us to go without a complaint he said to us three, "You want to go to Cedar Point, boys?"

It was a weekday night and so, yes, I was skeptical as much as a nine year old could be.  My youngest brother would have been three years old, though, so he was buying it hook, line, and sinker.

He took us to the Mall and while outside of the department store O'Neills he pointed up at this ugly metal piece of art and declared, "See 'dar point!"

Oh, the let down.

I was reminded of this mid 1970's story when visiting Belden Village Mall with my daughter the other day.  The landmark is still there outside of Dillard's!  See 'dar point?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Beer Guys Like Their Licking County Location

I just like that all of the logos and materials out of Homestead Beer Company include a Licking County mention.   Licking County's largest brewery and the Port Authority's newest manufacturer is about to start brewing!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life In A Swing State: What's The Recovery Time?

One recent report said $72.5 million in political television advertising had run in Ohio between April and September.  And, seemingly, 99% of that was negative advertising.

Tack on the national news stories where, seemingly, every one of them take a slam at Ohio either calling us the "Rust Belt" state or some such pejorative label.

And it's not over.  We have almost a month of this still to go.

The collective psyche of Ohio has been through the ringer.  This has to have a negative impact on our people's thinking and our collective attitudes as a state.  In fact, it does.

It has me wondering.  What is the recovery time for this?

I sure hope it doesn't take 48 months.  Or we'll never come out of this cycle.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Video: America Is At Stake

The National Association of Manufacturers is clearly aimed at raising, and keeping, manufacturing on the top of the national agenda during, and after, this election.  This YouTube video is powerful proof.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Advocating For Kotkin's Advice to Investment Community

Here's hoping the investment community is reading.

Joel Kotkin's latest piece at Forbes had this tidbit of advice to Wall Street:  

"Sometimes it might make more sense. . .to look at opportunities closer to home, where constitutional protections, a large domestic market and a diversified economy may provide better long-run prospects."

As is his custom, Kotkin threw facts at Goldman Sachs and those who tend to look to the countries du jour rather than the United States for new investment territory.

China was so popular, but greater knowledge of their demographic decline and a slowed economy has already seen China drop from favor.

Africa was gaining steam.  So was Brazil.  Not any more.

Now, Mexico is back, but the workforce capacity there is already hitting the ceiling.

He's right. A closer to home strategy makes sense.  Are they reading?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Life In A Swing State: Keeping Manufacturing On The Forefront When The Spotlight is Off

When the campaigning for President is over and the swing state spotlight turns off, will the spotlight leave manufacturing too? It's been a mixed, but mostly positive advantage to see manufacturing get mentioned and focused on in Ohio and on the national stage. I think it's helped to change the always-false impression that manufacturing was dead.

That's the challenge of life in a swing state. The negatives linger longer than the positives.

Here's a positive manufacturing news story worth sharing: Ohio's Manufacturing Gains Likely To Continue.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

RickOHIO Revisited: Color Floods Ohio

This is a web column written before blogs were blogs at  Frankly, not much has changed on this one.  The recommendations still stand from 1997.  It's fall in Ohio and time to get out and see the colors of Ohio this time of year.

Color Floods Ohio
by RickOHIO

October 1997

Anywhere you look in Ohio these days, you'll see the unmatchable colors of fall brought to you by Mother Nature. Ohio is being flooded with color of every kind this autumn. Oh, what a sight.

It's with personal experience that the following activities are suggested for Ohio tourists this fall.

Walk through the Hocking Hills.
Old Man's Cave, where trapper Richard Roe lived among the nooks and crannies of a forested hills, is host to countless visitors this fall. Climb the rocks, take a nature hike, or pier out from atop a ranger's lookout tower [NOTE: Regrettably, you can't do this anymore.].

From RickOHIO's Experience: You don't have to get totally back to nature here. More than a handful of the chalets and cottages around the Hocking River Valley are equipped with hot tubs.

Tour Amish Country.
Holmes County is a hub for tourists this time of year. It's quiet and peaceful here, even though Amish Country is Ohio's second-most-visited tourist area. It's harvest time on the countless farms without fuel-fired farm equipment. The colors are tremendous on a Amish family's farm in the fall.

From RickOHIO's Experience: You will eat well here, very well. Sample the homemade pies for which the Amish of Ohio are so well known.

Watch a Massillon Tiger's Football Game.
The colors of orange and black are prevalent in Massillon this time of year. It's football season here where most everyone is a tiger. Massillon is world-reknowned for its football.

From RickOHIO's Experience: A high school football game in Massillon, Ohio should be on every true sports fan's agenda in their lifetime. With stands built for 20,000 people, you shouldn't have difficutly finding a seat for home games in September or October.

Stroll through Ohio's City of Murals.
Steubenville just celebrated the completion of the most recent of 33 murals painted on buildings in the downtown area. Colors flood the streets of this Ohio River community. The newest mural brings Dean Martin to life in full color while others depict history and historical figures which have shaped the Ohio Valley.

From RickOHIO's Experience: Across the street from three of the better murals is the Welsh Jaguar Classic Car Museum and restaurant. The food here is good and the view is too. [NOTE: Different name for the restaurant now.]

Close Together.
All of these activities are close together on the eastern half of Ohio. You can start at Massillon for a Friday night football game, stay over in Amish Country with a country breakfast Saturday morning, open your Sunday with a driving tour of Steubenville's murals, and end your weekend with a view of the sun setting on the Hocking Hills.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ohio Manufacturing Day

It's Ohio Manufacturing Day today. The terms Ohio and manufacturing are almost synonymous.

Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state in the Union and the largest in the Midwest.

17.8% of Ohio GDP is from manufacturing, making it Ohio's top industry.

More than 5% of the national GDP comes from Ohio.

And manufacturing is growing with plenty of long-term positives on the horizon sparked by favorable demographics in the U.S. compared to other GDP competitors, including China.

Just sharing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

16 Years of Cable Broadband

This trinket in my office is a reminder of an historic event in Ohio.

I was there in September 1996 when Time Warner launched RoadRunner, the nation's first cable internet service, aka broadband.  The Akron-Canton region in which I worked at that time was the launch site for this first of its kind way to access the Internet from the home.  The launch was at Akron's Inventors Hall of Fame.  It really was a milestone event for which Ohio should be proud to have been the launch pad.

Up until then, people were still dialing in to a phone modem or paying for a dedicated ISDN line that was not practical, nor easily available, for the home.

Broadband is taken for granted now, but it's still the fastest, most practical service around for homes.  In fact, I recently swapped my telephone DSL line for a cable broadband one in my home.  It only took me 16 years.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Positive Signs in My Own Backyard

$72.5 million worth of negative political advertising, bad forward-looking economic reports, and less-than-stellar unemployment data can tend to get any economic development optimist down.

That's why it was great to get sent this photo taken by one of my staff showing traffic going into one of our Port Authority customers' plants.

A line up of trucks loaded with steel coils are always a positive sign and a pick me up.  Thanks, John.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Life In a Swing State: Ohio Voting Now Underway

Life in a Swing State.  Here's the latest.

Let the voter ID phone calls end.  Let the direct mail pieces be spared.  I voted today.

I waited in line with people behind me too taking advantage of today, the first day of Early Voting in Ohio.  Point is, the voters left to be talked to are getting smaller.

However, we still have 30 days to Election Day so there's a lot of writers to still write about Ohio's "Rust Belt" and there's still voters to be persuaded. 

Making promises of a cabinet post for an Ohioan or a boost to Ohio manufacturing are still of  potential value.  Don't wait too long, though, candidates.  Early Voting is underway.  I'm proof.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Ever The Optimist, But. . .

Are we looking over our shoulder too often these days?

Uncertainty rules.  At best, it's more difficult to be an economic optimist these days.

Export orders are down. That's a repeated trend for several months now.

Sequestration and the unresolved, automatic government cuts loom large. That's a wet blanket just three months off.

Europe and China are slowing, if not in a recession. Heard those reports?

Business Week sums it up in today's piece on the manufacturing sector.