We know 2020 has been an incredibly tough year for businesses and workers. But data from local and state organizations reveals Ohioans are hopeful about our economy and the future. For this year-end report, News 5 re-visited several companies we highlighted throughout the year in our Rebound series.
RB SIGMA: MENTOR, OHIO
The work at RB Sigma in Lake County rarely slows down — the company churns out 17 million N-95 and surgical masks a month. More than 40 million shipped out so far in 2020.
“24 hours a day, six days a week,” said president Justin Bloyd.
He credits their success to his team and their work ethic.
“Half of the team that’s here now wasn’t here before and they’ve worked tirelessly every day,” Bloyd said.
The Mentor manufacturer has seen its business boom during the pandemic.
Earlier this year, we showed you how they pivoted from supply chain management to making their own PPE.
“And I would encourage people to look really hard at what’s being made domestically,” Bloyd said. “We’re doing so well because our reliance is purely on domestically made raw materials and other products. I would try to eliminate any foreign dependence you have so you can become more vertically integrated.”
And for RB Sigma, 2021 won’t just be focused on growing manufacturing.
They’re also adding in tech innovation, working on an iPhone and Android app that’ll be like “Uber” for vaccines.
They’ve been working with Ohio counties and health departments for months to launch it in the coming weeks.
“We’re starting with the COVID-19 vaccine. You can find a provider in your area, very similar to how you would Uber a meal. You can schedule an appointment, you can give electronic consent, answer prescreening questions,” Bloyd said, adding that the app automatically inputs patient data into the state medical registry, saving the health department and clinicians another step.
PARIS HEALTHCARE LINEN: RAVENNA, OHIO
Over at Paris Healthcare Linen in Portage County, busy doesn’t even begin to cover it. They do the laundry for more than 50 hospitals in Ohio.
And when we introduced you to them in October, they were struggling to fill open positions.
“I would love to tell people who are home sitting on the couch - the economy needs you. Everyone needs to get back to work,” said general manager Drew Canavan.
They currently employ about 260 employees, hoping to add a couple dozen more. Starting pay is $11.50, going up to $15 an hour.
Canavan said they’re still down about 6% of their workforce — and he knows they’re not alone.
“Everywhere I go, every business I pass has now hiring signs up,” Canavan said. “Every company like ours or every factory or manufacturing facility in our area, they’re all hiring right now, they’re all desperately looking for employees.”
According to Ohio Means Jobs, the state’s one-stop career development hub, there are at least 164,000 open positions across the state right now.
STEP 2: STREETSBORO, OHIO
It’s the same story over at Step2, the toy manufacturer whose products have been flying off the shelves in 2020. Even before the pandemic, their demand was high.
Back in August, we told you they put the call out for more workers.
“We still need help. Our demand is still high,” said Errin Marigney, plant production manager.
They are looking to fill about 100 open positions in Streetsboro and Perrysville right now. First, second or third shift, eight or 12-hour shifts, weekends only, whatever flexibility you want.
“The more people we can bring in, the more we can fill orders, the more we can make parents and children happy,” Marigney said.
And it’s not just the big companies in Ohio hiring, pivoting and doing well in 2020.
Small businesses and startups are showing their own kind of success.
“So really, what has defined Ohio entrepreneurs for a long time is resilience and courage. It’s a courageous thing to start a new business,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
And we’re seeing that in record-breaking numbers.
According to data from LaRose’s office, there were 12,181 new business filings in November. It is a 47% increase from November 2019.
Total new business filings so far in 2020 have reached 157,338 — beating out 2019’s record of 130,621.
Proving yet again — Ohioans are getting creative and staying busy.
“I think it’s up to us as Ohioans to make sure we’re supporting these great small businesses. These are our neighbors, these are our friends that are going out there and trying to start something new,” LaRose said.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
A recent report from Team NEO found the number of jobs in Northeast Ohio during the pandemic didn’t decline all that much compared to last year.
Some sectors struggled, while others grew — finding that healthcare, manufacturing and IT offered the most new opportunities.
Not all new businesses will be profitable or successful. Still, it’s a promising sign.
“It’s a story of optimism. Ohioans are optimistic that better days are ahead,” LaRose said.
Better days and a better economy — here’s to a new year with new hope.