Stop the bleeding

Dear Mr. President: The news coming out of Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing community continues to disappoint. But you already know this. You visited the state more than 30 times during your re-election campaign.

Recently, Orville-based J.M. Smucker Co. was the latest to announce layoffs — about 180 positions at a California plant it’s closing. Smucker also intends to restructure its operations and sell off its industrial bakery ingredients and dairy ingredients businesses. So add it to the list of companies in the region, such as The Timken Co. and The Hoover Co., which have contributed to the loss of jobs.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Mr. President. You can help. As you begin your second term, don’t forget about Northeast Ohio. What we need during the next four years isn’t another round of tax cuts that expands the budget deficit, but well thought-out business-related incentives to help manufacturers adapt to the global economy and pump money into the sagging economy.

Moral values were a key factor this past year, so don’t forget what the New Testament said about teaching a man to fish rather than feeding him fish. With a little push, manufacturers can be on the road to self-sufficiency.

It’s being done at companies like ISG, where a savvy investor bought the assets of a left-for-dead steelmaker and installed a keen CEO, who scrapped the old model of U.S. steelmaking and remade the industry to make it globally competitive.

Mr. President, you can’t pass laws, but you influence Congress’ legislative agenda. So please consider sending to the Hill the following proposals:

* Tax credits to manufacturers that undertake Six Sigma or lean manufacturing initiatives. These credits can be given based on effectiveness of the programs.

* Hard dollars allocated to work force development and other training programs to update the skills of traditional manufacturing employees

* Money to retrain the hundreds of thousands of displaced manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs over the past five years

Mr. President, Ohio did its part to provide you with the opportunity to lead this country for four more years. Now it’s time for you to do your part and provide Ohio an opportunity to remake its manufacturing economy. After all we’ve been through together, it’s the least you can do.