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Ohio manufacturing spotlighted in State of the Union address

Author: 
Andrew Cass | The News-Herald

Ohio manufacturing was briefly put into the spotlight during President’s Trump’s State of the Union addressJan. 30.

Specifically, he mentioned Dayton-based Staub Manufacturing when talking about the recently passed tax reform. Co-owner Steve Staub also serves as a director on the Ohio Manufacturing Association Board.

“Manufacturers in Ohio are excited and optimistic and we’re glad to the see the president giving Ohio manufacturers the best seat in the House,” Ohio Manufacturer’s Association President Eric Burkland said in a statement.

On the other side of the state, in Lake County, manufacturing remains an important industry, but as Lake County Ohio Port and Economic Development Authority Director Mark Rantala noted, it’s “not about finding a job for everyone, it’s about finding someone for every job.”

When he presentedhis 2016 state of the industrial market, Rantala said the county could be between 4,000 and 8,000 workers short of filling the jobs that exist today based upon the number of baby boomers retiring and millennials entering the workforce.

The port authority, along with other entities like the Alliance for Working Together, have been pushing efforts to get students interested in manufacturing.

Rantala said they’ve been fortunate in Lake County that people recognized the need and began making those efforts seven or eight years ago. The Alliance for Working Together, he said, has been on the “cutting edge” of the need.

Battling robots programs RoboBots and Junior Bots are one way the organization is working to get kids to think about manufacturing.

“Increasing the number of people interested in manufacturing at an earlier age is certainly important,” Rantala said.

Roger Sustar has been involved in manufacturing for more than 50 years. He is the CEO of Mentor-based Fredon Industries and founded the Alliance for Working Together. He said he’s hopeful the president’s remarks about manufacturing in his speech “turns the valve on more” for the industry.

Sustar said work to get more students interested in manufacturing has been slow, but he said they’re making progress.

In a recent development, Sustar pointed to NEXTWORK, a Lake and Geauga County manufacturing K-12 partnership. It’s a “career and workforce development program created to address the workforce needs and serve as a catalyst to economic prosperity in both counties.”

The goal is to create a standard process to build awareness of manufacturing careers, opportunities for students to experience all aspects of the manufacturing industry and a collaborative environment in which the leaders of the manufacturing community work with the leaders in K-12 education to establish programming that best meets the needs of both organizations, Wickliffe Schools Director of Strategic Innovation Julie Ramos previously told The News-Herald.

Alliance for Working Together Executive Director Alice Cable said over the past few years, she’s seen more interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). She added schools have increased efforts to get students interested in those fields.

Rantala said more parents are recognizing college is not for everyone and students can graduate from a place like Auburn Career Center and start working without college debt.

In his address, Trump said “as tax cuts create new jobs, let’s invest in workforce development and let’s invest in job training, which we need so badly.”

Rantala had two things in mind he would like to see that investment go toward.

One is funding for more apprenticeships to get people into the workforce at higher levels.

He said he’d also like to see increased funding for career centers like Auburn. Those funds could be used for adult education programs to help people transition into manufacturing careers. They also could be used to pay for new equipment to train on.

Cable said she would like to see Congress reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which provides federal support to career education program. At the state level, Cable said she is hoping Lakeland gets capital funding to help revamp the engineering building at Lakeland Community College.

http://www.news-herald.com/business/20180131/ohio-manufacturing-spotlighted-in-state-of-the-union-address