Winning the race

By: Mike Baach

What a fabulous place we live in for economic development, especially for the industrial segment. The recent development of both “dry” and “wet” gas wells in the nearby Marcellus and Utica Shale basins place economical energy and industrial manufacturing inputs, such as ethylene, right at Northeast Ohio’s doorstep. These resources will become even more readily available as more transportation pipelines are installed.

With our proximity to Lake Erie, where better to locate water dependent and “green” focused industries, such as beverage, semiconductor and pharmaceutical? Fully developed water treatment technologies, which often return water in a more purified condition than its source, are now commonly used by industries that use water in industrial processes. Where else but Northeast Ohio is there such immediate proximity to every type of intermodal transportation, such as freight handling by truck, rail, air or ship?

We, however, lack the skilled, motivated workforce needed to entice companies to our region. Since this is a nationwide problem, the region that provides a sustainable supply of skilled workers will win the economic development race. With everything Northeast Ohio has to offer, we must find a way to show companies looking to start, grow or relocate a business that we have a supply of qualified workers to meet their demand.

Wanted: People to train

Ohio, as well as a number of regional organizations, already has both the funds and training resources required to give men and women the skills they need to obtain well-paying jobs of which they can be proud. Generally, we are not lacking in training infrastructure, we simply lack the number of people to train.

The notion that you cannot get a good job without going to college is both a false and often damaging statement to our youth. We must begin the process at home and in our schools to let our children know that there is great respect for skilled tradesmen.

We all know of seemingly smart college graduates who are saddled with student loan debt and cannot find jobs, often because they have pursued degrees in areas of study that are not in high demand. The sooner we begin to send the message that there is no shame in pursuing a job that not only requires them to use their brains, but also their hands, the better off their generation and our economy will be.

As for filling the recruiting funnel, don’t forget our military veterans. The uninformed believe that military people are too rigid for civilian jobs. What some may call rigidity could be called keen focus. These men and women are accustomed to taking and giving orders while working as a team. I challenge our public and private training organizations to consider hiring our respected military veterans.

Our company’s first recruiting call is to the Wounded Warriors Project. We owe a great degree of gratitude to these brave men and women. Why not look to them as being the resource we need to rebuild the Northeast Ohio and U.S. economies into the most vibrant in history.

Mike Baach is president and CEO of The Philpott Rubber Co. Founded in 1889, Philpott is a leading innovator and provider of cost effective polymeric systems and solutions in the industrial and energy markets. Mike has guided Philpott’s transformation from a relatively obscure industrial rubber company with great people to one that now serves a multitude of markets with a vast array of polymeric product and service offerings.