It’s one thing to identify an initiative that helps the economy, community and overall human condition. It’s even better when you develop a plan that directly addresses the issues that surround it.
MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, together with more than 100 champions, has launched its new blueprint for manufacturing in Northeast Ohio.
Entitled “Make It Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio” this 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. The goal is to revitalize Northeast Ohio as a global leader in smart manufacturing, creating thousands of new jobs and transforming the industry.
The launch took place at MAGNET’s future home on Cleveland’s East Side last month.
“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,” says Dr. Ethan Karp, president and CEO of MAGNET. “We’ve got all of 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.”
According to Karp, MAGNET created the blueprint from hundreds of hours of interviews with stakeholders, manufacturers, educators and nonprofit leaders to identify four initiatives.
“So that in 10 years, we could lead the world in advanced manufacturing,” Karp says.
According to Karp, those four areas are: talent, building the workforce of tomorrow; technology transformation, there are a lot of companies that are adopting smart technologies but a lot of our companies are not there yet; innovating new products and processes, new ideas that companies can either spin out or re-shore; and lastly leadership, having companies step up to make the investments they need for talent, technology and innovation.
“We, as a community, need to work collaboratively, like we did when thousands of Ohio manufacturers stepped up to help create PPE during the pandemic,” adds Karp. “We have lofty goals, but we also have strategies that are more specific, that will take us from point A to point B.”
Needless to say, manufacturers of all sizes are on board with the new blueprint.
“We just started talking with MAGNET, and we found we had the same mindset, the same goals for the future,” says Elizabeth Barry, president and CEO of Delta Systems of Streetsboro, who last year was also elected to serve on the executive committee of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. “So it was a very easy thing to join what I believe will not only help Northeastern Ohio, but our whole state.”
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 the previously mentioned four key areas. 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,” says 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,” says 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,” adds 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 100-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.”