Columbiana County Celebrates Manufacturing Industry

SALEM, Ohio – Over 39% of Salem’s workforce is employed in the manufacturing sector, putting the city several notches ahead of the national and state average.

Salem is home to 37 manufacturing companies – a significant portion of the total 167 manufacturing companies in Columbiana County. US manufacturers account for 8.6% of the workforce, and in Ohio employ 12.7% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Julie Needs, executive director of the Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, Inc. in Salem, says Columbiana County is putting itself on the map as an industry leader.

“I think some are surprised at the amount of manufacturing. And we have a lot of local manufacturers. These are homegrown manufacturers who have been here 70 or 80 years,” Needs says.

The SOD Center, the Columbiana County Port Authority and the Columbiana County Economic Development Department came together Friday afternoon at Salem Industrial Park to host the first workforce appreciation day in honor of Manufacturing Month.

Food trucks and stands handed out free lunch to workers of the park as a way to say thank you, port authority CEO Penny Traina says.

“It gives us a chance to congratulate the manufacturing industry for all of their contributions that they give to the county, the state and the region,” Traina says. “They’ve made a decision to have a career in manufacturing and it’s a good career for them. And we just want to congratulate them on the jobs they do every day for our county.”

Manufacturing is a critical industry, Needs says, and while the county boasts more manufacturing employees than the average, there is still a need for more workers.

“[Manufacturers] are just so invaluable to our marketplace. We need more interest in the skilled trades. We have several employers who have significant job openings,” Needs says. “We want to thank those that are already doing it, and let them know that we do appreciate what they add to our economy. Every one of them makes a difference, regardless of what their role is within the company.”

Salem’s industrial park and manufacturing sector is growing, Traina says, and 2,000 employees are employed at the park alone. Traina hopes the next generation sees the importance of manufacturing and the job opportunities that are available in the industry.

Traina wants the event to raise awareness of the industry’s presence in Columbiana County.

“I think that the manufacturing industry has been overlooked. We want to put a different microscope on them so that folks know that these jobs are important, and it’s important to the economic development of our county – not just the county, but the state and the nation,” Traina says.

The manufacturing industry has changed dramatically over the last few decades, Columbiana County Economic Development director Tad Herold says, and he wants to get that point across to the public. He says that in a world where there are so many employment opportunities, he’s thankful to those who choose manufacturing.

Columbiana County commissioner Roy Paparodis says manufacturing brings a much needed middle class to the county and to the nation. “We got to get it back and this is how we’re going to get it back – manufacturing jobs,” he says.

TruCut is a leading supplier of out-of-production HVAC service parts and has been a part of Columbiana County’s manufacturing sector since 1968. Jake Gano, TruCut CEO and president, says getting members of the industry together to celebrate is a great idea.

“It’s the backbone of not only our community but of America. And it’s nice to celebrate the people doing the work every day,” Gano says.

From left: Susan Gregory, Columbiana County Economic Development Department administrative assistant; Penny Traina, port authority CEO; Brittany Smith, port authority assistant executive director; Haedan Panezott, port authority private sector specialist; Julie Needs, SOD Center executive director; Bobby Ritchey, port authority recovery coordinator; Tad Herold, county economic development director; Roy Paparodis, county commissioner.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.