Talent and Technology: Driving Northeast Ohio Economy Beyond 2020

By Bill Koehler, CEO, Team NEO
When a company announces an expansion or the need to find a new location, there is a passionate and dedicated network of collaborative partners behind the shovels ready to help break new ground. 

It’s this network that helps unleash the potential for companies in our region, and for our economy as a whole. 

At Team NEO, we help companies tap into that potential in northeastern Ohio, a region covering 18 counties, with a $238 billion economy and a workforce of 2 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, the Youngstown Business Incubator and Brite Energy Innovators. 

Team NEO, as part of this robust and collaborative system has helped to generate several economic wins for the region. In Trumbull and Mahoning counties, Team NEO has helped 24 companies generate more than 2,000 jobs and almost $2 billion in capital investment since 2015.

One of the most important factors in a company’s decision to invest in northeastern Ohio is the workforce. Companies want to know that a healthy talent pipeline is in place to meet its current needs and accommodate growth.

Based on our research, we know that northeastern Ohio employers are looking for more talent in three important sectors: manufacturing, health care and IT. These industries are growing in demand, and northeastern Ohio is not graduating and retaining enough talent to accommodate the need.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Our annual report on northeastern Ohio’s talent supply and demand gap, Aligning Opportunities in Northeast Ohio, provides a clear assessment of this challenge across several industries. 

In 2019, we partnered with Delta Dental to expand beyond the report to include a series of forums to facilitate conversations with educators and businesses about the talent gap. In 2020, we will continue this work to help cultivate a robust pipeline of talented workers and ensure that our best talent stays in the region. 

Working to solve the talent gap, however, is only one way that Team NEO leverages its resources and partners with companies to strengthen the economy.  

We also actively work to help companies innovate and adopt new technology to become more competitive.  

Innovation makes an economy more productive, more resilient and more capable of delivering opportunities for more people to prosper. 

For example, northeastern Ohio manufacturers stand to benefit greatly from the implementation of technology enabled by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). 

IIoT implementation represents an opportunity for incremental economic impact of as much as $13 billion annually for our region. 

Knowing this, Team NEO launched the Smart Manufacturing Cluster of Northeast Ohio, a group of end-user companies, academic institutions and supply chain participants to advance the region through IIoT adoption. The group recently developed and released a Smart Manufacturing IIoT Roadmap that provides a clear assessment of how the region can leverage its legacy as a manufacturing hub and become more competitive through the adoption of IIoT. 

As a result of this partnership, in 2019 northeastern Ohio was recognized by the International Economic Development Council with its inaugural Innovation Programs and Initiatives award. 

It’s this type of forward thinking and collaboration that makes all of us stronger as we work to build businesses, create jobs and help the economy grow.  It’s the type of collaboration we are grateful to have with our partners in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. We look forward to what we will achieve together in 2020 and beyond.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.