Three steps to a more prosperous manufacturing sector (and Ohio): Ryan Augsburger

Three steps to a more prosperous manufacturing sector (and Ohio): Ryan Augsburger

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the past year and COVID-19 have brought plenty of challenges, there have been silver linings in Ohio. Throughout the pandemic, Ohio’s top industry – manufacturing – has led the way in workplace safety while supplying the nation with personal protective equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, and other necessary goods. Manufacturing employees have again demonstrated why they are essential in so many ways. And manufacturers have led the economic recovery by creating jobs and making major investments. Despite these positive developments, manufacturing businesses face immediate threats. Supply chain disruptions, rising prices for inputs and energy, and exacerbated labor shortages could seriously impede this recovery.

To ensure continued success for Ohio’s manufacturing sector and economy, The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA) is focusing our efforts on the following three action areas:

Expand the talent pool

An updated study by The Manufacturing Institute finds America’s manufacturing skills gap could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs over the next decade. The cost of those unfilled jobs could total $1 trillion in 2030 alone. Because manufacturing represents nearly one-fifth of the Buckeye State’s GDP, this workforce shortage is a direct threat.

The OMA continues to dedicate tremendous resources to modernize the way Ohio develops its manufacturing workforce. This includes establishing a statewide network of industry sector partnerships – led by manufacturers – to promote manufacturing careers locally.
At the same time, the OMA and Ohio TechNet are expanding earn-and-learn opportunities, such as apprenticeships, especially among populations that traditionally have been underrepresented in the industry. The OMA is also introducing students and career-switchers to manufacturing opportunities through tools such as

Thanks to the DeWine-Husted administration and key members of the General Assembly, Ohio is a leader in the use of industry-recognized credentials and the promotion of manufacturing careers. This progress must continue, while federal policymakers need to remove financial incentives that keep individuals out of the workforce.

Find reshoring opportunities

The pandemic has ushered in the largest opportunity for American manufacturers in the last half-century by spotlighting our overreliance on foreign manufacturing. Recent surveys indicate that nearly 70% of manufacturing companies want to bring production to North America.
It’s time for Ohio to recapture – or reshore – lost manufacturing capacity and supply chains. But doing so will take a concerted effort by both policymakers and business leaders.
Strategic investments in targeted sectors – such as PPE, medical devices, defense, and infrastructure – will help attract new facilities and supply chains while providing greater resiliency to end users. Moreover, the current technology revolution will dramatically improve America’s manufacturing productivity. If Ohio can adopt policies to accelerate the use of new technology while simultaneously preparing our skilled workforce, then our state will enjoy a major competitive advantage.
Make manufacturing climate even more competitive

Ohio is the nation’s third-largest manufacturing state for several reasons, including its competitive manufacturing environment. After all, Ohio was recently awarded its second consecutive Governor’s Cup from Site Selection magazine for having the largest number of economic development projects per capita – about half of which are manufacturing projects.

But our business climate is under constant threat. Every policy decision that impacts Ohio’s manufacturing competitiveness in turn affects our economic health and job creation. Manufacturers need policies that encourage investment and protect our manufacturing advantage. Near-term priorities should include:

· Building on initiatives that create incentives for capital investment in Ohio.

· Shoring up Ohio’s insolvent unemployment trust fund by aligning benefits with contributions. (The best solvency plan is one that includes a focus on job creation.)

· Ensuring our energy markets are free from manipulation so customers can benefit from innovation and competition. (This means Ohio lawmakers must repeal the House Bill 6 subsidies for Ohio Valley Electric Corp. coal plants, including one in Indiana.)

Throughout the pandemic, Ohio has maintained its position as a national and global manufacturing leader. Let’s make sure Ohio remains in the driver’s seat. I invite you to learn more about what the OMA is doing at

Ryan Augsburger is president of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.

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