BY BILL KOEHLER
CEO, Team NEO
YOUNGSTOWN – At Team NEO, we help companies tap into the potential in northeastern Ohio, a region covering 18 counties, with a $200 billion economy and a workforce of two million people. It’s our job to help connect companies to resources they need to grow and to work with local partners such as the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Youngstown Business Incubator and Brite Energy Innovators.
As the country and our communities struggled to keep up with the initial demands of the COVID-19 crisis, Team NEO engaged with business leaders to identify pain points and develop a plan of action. As the JobsOhio Network Partner for Northeast Ohio, we leveraged our partnership to communicate needs to the state.
This early and ongoing intervention was critical. Despite significant challenges, northeastern Ohio finished 2020 with companies creating the most new jobs on record in a single year since we started tracking economic indicators. This resulted from the continuous collaboration among Team NEO, JobsOhio, local partners and businesses. Final 2020 results include:
• 84 project wins (93% of goal).
• 8,528 jobs created (131% of goal).
• $449.1 million in annual payroll (142% of goal).
• $3.35 billion in capital investment (220% of goal).
Specifically in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, final 2020 results indicate:
• 12 project wins.
• 2,926 jobs created.
• $149.3 million in annual payroll.
• $2 billion in capital investment.
The largest and most well-publicized project in the Mahoning Valley is Lordstown Motors Corp.’s commitment to produce the Lordstown Endurance, the world’s first full-size, all-electric pickup truck, here. In 2020, LMC received Ohio Tax Credit Authority approval to support the hub motor and battery line that helps accelerate the timeline of the project. This line alone is expected to bring 1,570 high-tech jobs to the region.
A cross-organizational team including the Ohio Development Serv-ices Agency, JobsOhio, Team NEO, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the village of Lordstown and Youngstown State University, plus state and regional representatives, worked with LMC to help bring the project to fruition.
It is this alignment and shared vision that kept Team NEO and our high-performing network of economic development, public sector, private sector, and other partners moving through 2020. Last year’s uncertainty and adversity only strengthened our resolve to collaborate and work toward common objectives – growth, expansion and innovation.
The importance of building regional innovation clusters and accelerating technology was evident as manufacturers faced challenges brought on by the pandemic. Team NEO leveraged relationships with key decision-makers and influencers – plus our region’s assets in additive manufacturing, supply chain, health care and more – to address critical needs. Companies of all sizes stepped up to design, manufacture and donate personal protective equipment. For example, Team NEO contributed to a process led by America Makes and the Youngstown Business Incubator for navigating agency approvals for 3D printed PPE designs and assisted in connecting those designs with companies with 3D printing capability.
In late July, Team NEO distributed 4,500 PPE safety toolkits, donated by JobsOhio, to small businesses. In Trumbull and Mahoning counties, we partnered with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and Cerni Motors to distribute the kits.
As we enter 2021, our work is helping to make our region more talented, equitable, innovative, resilient and prosperous. Team NEO has 113 projects in the pipeline – the largest in our history – representing more than 10,500 jobs.