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.

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