June 8, 2021

CLEVELAND—A new blueprint offers a vision for the future of manufacturing in Northeast Ohio—one that revitalizes the region as a leader in smart manufacturing, creates thousands of jobs, and transforms the industry, according to a release from the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET).

MAGNET, together with more than 100 champions of manufacturing in the region, recently launched “Make It Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio.” The Blueprint brings together the insights of hundreds of manufacturing CEOs, community leaders, business leaders, academics, workers, students, and nonprofit leaders.

“Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio has had its ups and downs, but the fact of the matter is the region remains a powerhouse that’s poised for growth,” said MAGNET President and CEO Ethan Karp, Ph.D., in the release. “We’ve got all 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’s possible in Northeast Ohio—and encourage us to work together to build a brighter future,” Karp said.

Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio is reported to constitute nearly half of the local economy, directly and indirectly support one million jobs, and make up 38 percent of the state’s GDP. But it faces persistent challenges: namely, a talent gap and the slow adoption of innovative technologies.

In January 2020, almost 60 percent of manufacturers in the region said they couldn’t find the skilled workers they need to grow—an obstacle that even widespread COVID-19-related layoffs didn’t solve. Meanwhile, the Ohio MEP (Manufacturing Extension Partnership) 2020 Manufacturing Survey found that investing in new technologies is near the bottom of the priority list for the vast majority of Northeast Ohio manufacturers.

The Blueprint addresses these and other key issues, grouping its insights and solutions around four key areas: talent, technology transformation, innovation, and leadership. The hope is that stakeholders throughout the region can use the report to guide collaborative efforts to solve these pressing problems.

“Manufacturing is a critical driver of our regional economy,” noted Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, in the release. “Accelerating the pace of technological transformation and the 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 to come, manufacturers and organizations throughout the region will be taking steps to bring the Blueprint to fruition. For instance, the Manufacturing Innovation Council—composed of many of Northeast Ohio’s leading companies—has identified key action areas to help bring the Blueprint to life. Interested parties can also tap into resources to help with change efforts at www.makeitbetterohio.org, and participate in quarterly champions calls to stay apprised of new ideas.

“Making products that matter is embedded in this region’s DNA, given our rich history as a center of industrial innovation that powered America,” said Baiju R. Shah, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and leader of the Cleveland Innovation Project, in the release. “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.”

Added Karp: “The pandemic showed the world Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing potential. After all, we have the manufacturers, big and small. We have the talent. We have the know-how. We have the educational institutions. We have the will. And we have a hundred-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.”

The Blueprint and its partner organizations can be found at www.makeitbetterohio.org.

MAGNET’s mission is to play a vital role in growing the manufacturing sector in Northeast Ohio, thereby creating more vibrant communities, increasing economic inclusion, and building a stronger middle class in our region. Since 1984, MAGNET has offered a wide range of hands-on consulting services to manufacturers as part of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and Ohio MEP. These services, which include product and process development, workforce initiatives, start-up support, and lean/operations consulting, help companies grow locally and compete globally, according to MAGNET.

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