Sunday, August 20, 2023

What Do Organic Baby Formula and Latex Paint Have in Common? Made in Licking County


Bobbie, an organic infant formula company, recently acquired a Licking County manufacturing plant it called “the most innovative infant formula manufacturing facility in the U.S.”  Nature’s One, Bobbie’s July acquisition target, has been in Licking County for over three years and ramped up production during the baby formula crisis.  They are little known locally.

Licking County hosts manufacturers bringing a diverse array of products to the International stage.  Companies are focused on selling products to the world, and they have found it hard to grab the local spotlight.

The story of diverse manufacturing in Licking County is, often, a hidden story.  For the sake of inspiring a future generation to pursue the broad job opportunities that are here, we all benefit from knowing more about what’s right here in our backyards.

For almost ten years now, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s product development center has been the darling of the tire world.  Yet, few know that development of new tire innovations take place in Hebron.  A few parents and students may remember, Goodyear led a STEM competition at The Works one year to tell their story.

Screen Machine has been making giant, rock crushing machines in Etna from design to road ready for some time.  Their product has done its job on every continent but for, maybe, Antarctica. 

Neurxstem is conducting research to develop a test diagnosing brain tissue reactions.  Who knew? Only after Congressman Balderson visited and the generated front page story in The Advocate caught a Heath mom’s attention, did a local guy find out that his skills were needed in his hometown.                             

Where synthetic food additives are discouraged, as in the European Union, the pine tree extract manufactured at Arboris in Newark is in great demand as a cholesterol-lowering ingredient in many foods.  Soy crisps, an ingredient to give crunch and protein to popular protein bars, come out of the GB Food factory in Heath.  GB is a European-Asian joint venture that first set up their shingle in the U.S. in 2016.  Gathered Foods followed GB in 2017 and makes international headlines for their plant-based seafood products.  Locally known?  Not so much.

It’s also little known, but a fact that the first silicon products to come out of Licking County won’t be from Intel.  Momentive Performance manufactures silicon quartz tubing and crucibles consumed in making semiconductors and photovoltaic solar panels.  They’ve been in Union Township for decades.

Kaiser’s hot rolled aluminum line, Boeing’s missile guidance systems unit, the Air Force’s metrology labs, Owens Corning’s research campus, and Covestro’s product development center are just a few more of the unique-to-the-world capabilities right here in Licking County.

Soon, Behr Paint will begin manufacturing latex paint in their new facility in Heath.  Behr’s television commercials make the brand known around the U.S., but the large, new facility has gone quietly forward over the last two years practically unnoticed.  I’m hopeful Behr’s good news tale won’t get painted over when they open production early next year.

It’s the diversity of manufacturing that is one of the greatest strengths of our local economy, labor market, and tax base in Licking County.  This strength is to be celebrated!


This column is a regular development column for The Newark Advocate.


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