Manufacturing has strong future


By Kalea Hall

khall@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Manufacturing will continue to have a role in Ohio’s future.

That’s according to the quarterly Cleveland Plus Economic Review that looks at economic data for the 18-county Northeast Ohio region released by Team NEO — a private-sector, regional collaboration of Northeast Ohio’s major businesses, foundations, chambers of commerce, economic-development organizations and JobsOhio.

“One misconception is that manufacturing died somewhere,” said Jacob W. Duritsky, vice president of strategy and research for Team NEO. “It is still the second-largest private employer.”

The report shows Northeast Ohio’s gross regional product for manufacturing grew 17 percent, and projections show it will grow an additional 25 percent over the next decade.

Manufacturing is expected to be a $53.5 billion sector of the economy by 2025. Today, it is a $43.6 billion sector of the economy.

Productivity, or output per employee, grew 92 percent from 1990 to 2015. The report projects it will grow an additional 63 percent over the next 10 years.

Although manufacturing employment opportunities declined in the region by 40 percent from 1990 to 2015, the area is expected to see 49,000 jobs added in production occupations in the next 10 years. A majority of these will become available because of retirement, but the region has seen a growth in employment opportunities from both the automotive-manufacturing and food-processing sectors.

But there is a problem. Manufacturers have a difficult time today finding the skilled workers they need.

The Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition and the Oh-Penn Manufacturing Collaborative continue to work with area schools to try to grow the workforce. The coalition was formed by regional manufacturers with the goal of promoting the development of a skilled workforce, and the collaborative also works to promote the need for a manufacturing skilled workforce.

“I am pleased to hear those numbers,” said Jessica Borza, executive director of the MVMC, of the report. “We have known that the projections have been strong for a long time.”

That’s why the coalition and collaborative have been proactive in trying to grow the workforce and get more individuals interested in manufacturing jobs.

“We are looking at other creative ways to capture individuals into these types of jobs,” Borza said.

The Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network also supports manufacturing in Ohio. MAGNET works with schools and universities so students understand the opportunities available in manufacturing.

The Team NEO report points out where the strength of manufacturing can be found in Northeast Ohio. Out of 21 manufacturing sectors, 15 are projected to grow in the next decade. Those expected to become the largest by 2025 dollarwise are: fabricated metal at $8.6 billion, transportation manufacturing equipment at $8.3 billion and chemical manufacturing at $8 billion.

What the report does not include is the impact from downstream oil and gas developments. These are developments that occur for the processing and distribution of the products.

The report also shows where the region is stronger than the state. Northeast Ohio’s transportation-equipment manufacturing is expected to grow 52 percent in the next decade while the U.S. is expected to grow 26 percent. Also, computer and electronic-product manufacturing is projected to grow by 50 percent in the next decade compared with the 35 percent increase the nation is expected to see in this sector.

Noted in the report is the Lordstown Logistics development by Missouri-based NorthPoint Development, which purchased the property last year. The company said it plans to have as many as five buildings spanning 1.5 million to 2 million square feet and housing up to 2,000 employees who work for General Motors suppliers and possibly other suppliers.

“The fact remains that manufacturing continues to be an important part — and the largest sector — of the region’s economy,” said Jim Clay, chairman and CEO of Westfield Group and Team NEO board chairman.

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