“Make It Better Ohio” offers new vision for NE Ohio
By Terry Troy
Last week, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET), together with more than 100 champions, launched its new Blueprint for manufacturing in Northeast Ohio. Entitled “Make It Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio” the new vision brings together the insights of hundreds of manufacturing CEOs, community leaders, business leaders, academics, workers and nonprofit leaders to address the future of manufacturing in the region and revitalize Northeast Ohio as a leader in smart manufacturing, creating thousands of new jobs and transforming the industry.
The launch took place at MAGNET’s future home on the east side of Cleveland.
“Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio has had its ups and downs, but the fact of the matter is the region remains a powerhouse that is poised for growth,” said Dr. Ethan Karp, president and CEO of MAGNET. “We’ve got all the pieces in place, but to make it happen we’ve got to bridge the talent gap, adopt cutting edge technologies and embrace innovation.
“While no one organization can change the course of our industry, it’s our hope that the stories, expertise and detailed strategies presented in this Blueprint can show us all what is possible in Northeast Ohio – and encourage us to work together to build a brighter future.”
Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio constitutes nearly half of the local economy, directly and indirectly supports one million jobs and makes up 38% of the state’s GDP. But it faces persistent challenges, which include a talent gap and the slow adaptation of new technologies. In January of 2020, almost 60% of manufacturers in the region said they couldn’t find the skilled workers they need to grow – an issue exacerbated as the economy recovers from the pandemic. In addition, the Ohio MEP 2020 Manufacturing Survey found that investing in new technologies is near the bottom of the priority list for a vast number of Northeast Ohio manufacturers.
The “Make It Better” Blueprint addresses these and other key issues, grouping its insights and solutions around four key areas, which include: talent, technology transformation, innovation and leadership. The hope is that stakeholders throughout the region can use the Blueprint to guide collaborative efforts to solve those issues.
“Manufacturing is a critical driver of our regional economy,” said Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO. “Accelerating the pace of technological transformation and growth of manufacturing career engagement will drive more equitable growth throughout our region, putting our region and all of our residents in a better position to prosper.
“The Blueprint allows us to pioneer holistic, manufacturing-led workforce solutions, creating a positive force in Northeast Ohio by building pathways to reach diverse and untapped talent.”
In the weeks and months ahead, manufacturers and organizations throughout the region will be taking steps to bring the new vision to fruition. The Manufacturing Innovation Council—
comprised of many Northeast Ohio’s leading companies—has identified key action areas to help bring the Blueprint to life.
“Making products that matter is embedded in this region’s DNA given our rich history as a center of industrial revolution that powered America,” said Baiju R. Shah, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and leader of the Cleveland Innovation Project. “Through the Blueprint, we now have the shared vision and commitment to build on that foundation and become the nation’s smart manufacturing capital. We look forward to working together with MAGNET, manufacturing leaders and many wonderful organizations to realize that vision.”
“The pandemic showed the world Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing potential,” added Karp. “After all, we have manufacturers big and small. We have talent. We have the know-how. We have the educational institutions. We have the will. And we have a hundred-year history of bouncing back and getting stronger after every single challenge. This is Northeast Ohio. This is our backbone. This is our heart and soul. We hope that with the help of this Blueprint, we can tap into that – together – and lead the world.”