Friday, May 17, 2013

Our Future's So Bright. . .

. . .And we get to see how bright when we get a chance to talk to and listen to the next generation.
It’s my pleasure this afternoon to again judge the work of the Licking Valley High School students’ globalization class.  I was mightily impressed a couple of years ago to even find out such a class existed in the first place.  I expect to be impressed again this year with the quality of our youth.
They usually give me a chance to talk to the students after I’ve heard their presentations and judged them.  These are the four points I’ll try to make today:

What’s Changing?
The students read the book The World is Flat to form the basis for their class.  Though a good one to read, I’m also suggesting Joel Kotkin’s The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.  Kotkin’s look at global and domestic demographics provides the basis for predicting a brighter, global picture for the U.S. and the Midwest in particular.  Since he wrote it three years ago, some of his futuristic predictions have already started to formulate.  The rebirth of manufacturing in the Midwest is one such example.

What’s Coming Up?
The Licking Valley computer classroom project is one sign of a changing World. There's more. These students can fully expect to ride in a driverlesscar.  Google has one that has already logged more than 300,000 miles without causing an accident.  There are already “3D printers” able to make usable products out of plastic, metal, and, even, edible materials.  You can buy one on e-Bay today.  Our manufacturing future is bright for our country. 

How Licking County Is Ready
While many were selling the idea that we would be a service economy, Licking County never stopped being totally focused on serving the needs of the manufacturing industry.  We’ve invested in highway capacity, rail lines, and preparing industrial sites. That rail line that runs through the Licking Valley is part of that equation too.  It’s those investments, even during lean years that we’ve had for most of the past dozen years in Ohio, that will pay off in the next 30. 

Diamond in Your Own Backyard
If those students are anything like most of their fellow students, they are already thinking about how fast can they get out of town.  That’s normal and not just in Ohio.  Though many may want to spend time convincing them to never leave, I’ll, instead, tell them that when they discover the diamond they were always looking for was in their own backyard all along that we welcome them back.  Homesick Ohioans outnumber the people who leave every day.  The welcome mat is always out to bring your talents back home.

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