Whether your family holiday gathering is in person or via Zoom, the topic of returning to Ohio needs to be an elevated topic for discussion this season. All things considered, Ohio has a great deal to be thankful for this season and Licking County is no exception.
Tell your out-of-town family that the signs of opportunity are here. The possibility to come home to Licking County and give yourself a raise is real. We can all be part of building the momentum for future opportunities in Licking County too.
Facebook, Google, and Amazon are highly visible tech infrastructure examples with a growing presence in Licking County. Even people working from home can find Licking County home base.
Our Port Authority campus in Central Licking County is a barometer too, especially for those who work in manufacturing.
New buildings are one sign. Six new buildings opened this year, including two companies starting food production work in the middle of the pandemic. Gathered Foods opened in May making plant-based seafood products for sale in North America. Nature’s One’s organic and plant-based infant formula production lines fired up in June.
Ariel Corporation just finished the tripling the size of their building in Heath. Two speculatively built industrial buildings hold the promise of more jobs to come. Plus, a new Air Force lab saw state-of-the-art equipment installed last week.
Another sign is available jobs. The job opportunities are stronger than they have been in some time. Boeing has been hiring to fill vacancies. From Bionetics to AFMETCAL and MISTRAS Group to Samuel Packaging, there are regular job postings.
Engineering and STEM-skilled jobs are among the jobs in demand. With 200 people who work in engineering careers on our campus, it’s not surprising that OhioMeansJobs.com searches yield 30 pages of jobs with the word engineer in them for a 20-mile radius of Newark.
The signs of return are real too. In fact, there’s growing evidence that the return to Ohio has already begun.
GB Food’s general manager is a Newark Catholic grad who left the area for school and work. His eye was always on his hometown. In March, he came back to run the company’s food production operation.
In May, Neurxstem leased a clean room on our campus to start important brain tissue research. Their second hire was a neurological researcher who had found his way back home to Heath.
A national review of annual changes in apartment rentals found stark declines in San Francisco, and New York. Where did the increases go? Three of the top seven markets in the country were in Ohio. Another study found Ohio cities among the most popular destinations for relocations by millennials.
Upskilling efforts and training opportunities are another positive sign.
Thanks to support from the Licking County Commissioners and CARES Act funding, upskilling to better prepare for landing a job in manufacturing is offered under a full, 100% paid scholarship through C-TEC. The first classes of grads are filling the job openings. The classes remain open to others who sign up.
I’m thankful for the boost that will surely come to our growing job opportunities from job talk during holiday gatherings this year.
Don’t be muted on the Zoom call or let the tryptophan kick in before you share the signs of opportunity and ensure the return to Ohio and Licking County can begin.
Rick Platt is the President and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority and a father of four who lives in Newark.