Journal Opinion: Manufacturing Matters

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The announcement that GM Defense, a General Motors subsidiary, has been selected to develop a battery pack prototype for use on Department of Defense platforms came on the eve of the national commemoration of Manufacturing Day, the first Friday in October.

GM Defense will leverage the automaker’s Ultium Cells electric vehicle battery platform to meet DOD requirements for a scalable design that can be used for tactical military vehicles.

Bottom line: More good news for Voltage Valley. 

Manufacturing doesn’t get much more modern than what’s taking place at Ultium in Lordstown. But it’s hardly the only example of how we make things has changed from the days when men – many of whom lacked high school diplomas – labored in hot, dirty steel mills and on other factory floors.

On Oct. 5, Foxconn – which owns the former GM Lordstown plant – announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Indiev Inc. to build its Indi One prototype. That could lead to a fourth EV being manufactured in Lordstown.

But EVs are not the sole road to a more prosperous future. Traditional manufacturers are adopting advanced processes as new companies emerge around America Makes, the manufacturing hub launched in Youngstown a decade ago to promote additive manufacturing technologies.

Among the Manufacturing Day celebrations Oct. 7 were events at America Makes and at the Excellence Training Center at Youngstown State University. All highlighted the technologies being used by local manufacturers, abundant employment opportunities and innovative workforce training programs.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio ranks third in the nation for the number of manufacturing jobs, with these positions representing more than one in eight jobs statewide.

The September U.S. jobs report showed manufacturing added 22,000 jobs. The sector has gained back all the jobs lost since the onset of the pandemic and has added an average of 36,000 jobs per month in 2022, data show.

As we consider what is happening locally and is on the horizon, we look to our southwest, where ground was broken a few weeks ago on Intel’s $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing campus.

This project is vital to improving American manufacturing competitiveness by making it less vulnerable to disruptions in overseas supply chains, and by enabling the reshoring of manufacturing jobs. Public and private stakeholders are looking at how supply chain demands could extend to the Mahoning Valley.

These emerging opportunities make it even more critical to invest in workforce training and education at all levels – so that the Mahoning Valley’s young people have the skills they need to pursue lucrative manufacturing careers. We call this Brain Gain, enabling our best and brightest to live their lives here and build a vibrant economy for all.