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.

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