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Consulting group launches blueprint to strengthen Northeast Ohio's manufacturing industry

MAGNET launches blueprint to strengthen Northeast Ohio's manufacturing industry
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 19:16:12-04

CLEVELAND — There are 10,000 manufacturing facilities in Northeast Ohio, and the industry makes up about 20% of the economy.

But when you take a closer look, manufacturers said they have a much bigger impact.

"Half of our economy, that's one out of every two jobs, depends on manufacturing,” said Ethan Karp, the president and CEO of the non-profit consulting group MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network.

When you add in factors like supply chains and other support, that number is more like 40-50%, which is why industry leaders are teaming up to help manufacturers to grow over the next ten years.

Tuesday, MAGNET launched "Make It Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio" to help manufacturers and make NEO a leader in smart technology within the next decade.

Karp said it contains “stories and strategies for how we can make manufacturing better for the next 10 years, how our economy can be made better, and how people's lives can be changed."

Those stories and strategies were developed with the help of more than 100 partners, Karp said, including manufacturing CEOs, academics, business leaders, workers, and students focusing around four pillars: talent, technology transformation, innovation, and leadership.

Leaders are hoping those pillars lead to a big boost in job growth.

“Our goal was 30,000 jobs in the next 10 years added to our economy, which would equate to 100,000 jobs in the overall economy,” Karp said.

Right now, manufacturers in Northeast Ohio are facing persistent challenges, including a talent gap.

“One of the major problems we're having right now is getting people to come to work, not come to work — to hire them,” said Elizabeth Barry, the CEO of Delta Systems.

Delta Systems is a company based in Streetsboro that makes switches and components for riding lawnmowers.

The talent gap in the manufacturing industry is an issue that pre-dates the COVID-19 pandemic.

MAGNET said that in January 2020, 60% of manufacturers in the region said they couldn’t find the skilled workers they needed to grow.

At the same time, a survey from the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership found that investing in new technologies is near the bottom of the priority list for the majority of companies in Northeast Ohio.

“We want to expand, we want to find new places to grow and to send products,” Barry said.

The blueprint addresses those issues and more.

“This will help us even get the confidence and the resources to figure out how and when,” Barry said.

MAGNET is also working to chip away at the talent gap in a different way with its new headquarters set to open in 2022. They're teaming up with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Great Lakes Science Center to teach kids and adults about manufacturing and pursuing it as a career.

“The building was created because we have tremendous training assets here, community college training centers, universities, but we don't have enough people going into them, and we've got to bring that awareness of what manufacturing is to thousands,” Karp said.

Team NEO CEO Bill Koehler believes job growth and a strengthening of the industry will happen if manufacturers follow the advice they’re being given.

“As companies engage in the process of technology adoption, understand how your workforce strategizes, and your other go-to-market strategies are impacted by technology and get into it, lean in,” Koehler said.

Barry said Delta Systems has already started using smart technology, but she’s hopeful the blueprint and other resources can help them go beyond what they’ve already achieved.

“This can help us introduce ourselves to new things. Have someone as a sounding board and figure out what to do and, and what might work before we just jump in and do what we think works,” Barry said.

"Make It Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio" can be found here.

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