GSL column: Working together will help our community take advantage of opportunities
This column appears in the April 2022 edition of Great Seal Living.
As Ohio celebrates the tremendous win of landing two leading-edge Intel chip factories in the Buckeye State, it’s natural to be a little envious of what Licking County pulled off by landing this huge project that will undoubtedly pay off for decades to come.
But their win is our win. Intel says it will need the help of 30 to 40 additional companies that will help supply the materials that the tech giant will need to produce the chips the factories will produce.
Let’s use a local example. Kenworth located a plant in Chillicothe in 1974. In the nearly 50 years since then, suppliers have popped up to meet the demand that Kenworth needs on a regular basis. Vitatoe Industries, Riffle Machine Works, Trim Systems, and others are among those who help the truck maker meet the quota. YSK, which has called Ross County home since 1989, arrived here as a Honda supplier.
With all that in mind, the Licking County Intel success could help Ross County and beyond. As OhioSE’s Mike Jacoby says, the key will be how we respond. “The time is now for communities who want to get in the game,” he said in a recent post on OhioSE.com. “It can be easy to talk yourself out of the hard work of prepping your community or site to win a future technology company thinking ‘it will never happen.’ A year ago, that’s what Silicon Valley said about Ohio. Not anymore.”
One way Ross County will coordinate its response is the establishment of an industry sector partnership, a collaboration between business, education and training providers, and other community groups and leaders who want to improve the area’s workforce.
After all, we find the best solutions when we are working together to find them in our region, instead of waiting for Columbus or Washington to save us. Our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and revitalize the Chillicothe downtown district are proof of using local solutions to breathe new life into our community.
Workforce is a critical piece for our economy and the pandemic certainly made it tougher for our industry partners. Building a better, more advanced workforce is a critical piece for future development.
As we looked throughout the state, the one underserved area was south central Ohio. Pickaway County was served by the Central Ohio Manufacturing Partnership, but no such partnership exists in southern Ohio.
That will change. Now, we’ll have a way to achieve that better workforce.
The BESTOhio (Business and Education Success Team) of south central Ohio represents a new voice for manufacturers in our region. The Chamber is excited to be a partner with Shawnee State University and the member industries, schools, economic development, human services organizations, and community-based organizations who will make up the group.
BESTOhio will cover Ross, Pike, Scioto, Jackson, and Adams counties and we’ll work together to better align business programs, upskilling and entry level training, innovate curriculum, funding options and providers, and other resources to serve our partners.
Jack Everson, the former Chillicothe mayor and long-time business specialist, will lead the partnership, bringing decades of experience in developing and maintaining workforce development and training programs.
In early February, we held a kickoff meeting to introduce the industry sector partnership to our regional partners and we’re committed to regular, quarterly meetings to update everyone. The framework for BESTOhio isn’t fully fleshed out yet, but we’re bringing our community’s leaders together to serve employers and employees.
Will the BESTOhio partnership yield another Intel success or even an ancillary supplier to its success? Maybe not. But at the least, we’ll have our manufacturers, educators, economic and other community developers at the same table to address the challenges and opportunities in front of them.
We stand a much better chance when we work together to coordinate our efforts. You can get more information about BESTOhio at best-ohio.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Throne is the president and CEO of the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce. He also co-hosts, with Marty Ford, the local podcast Feels Like Home, which is found wherever you get your podcasts. He can be reached at email@example.com.