Kristi Tanner likes to share Ohio’s story of financial stability and manufacturing heritage when describing the merits of attracting business in Ohio, particularly when she’s talking to global companies.
“International companies are looking for a location that can reduce their risk and maximize profitability,” says Tanner, JobsOhio senior managing director for automotive. “That describes Ohio. It also helps that you can reach 70 percent of the U.S. and Canadian automotive assembly facilities in a single-day truck drive.”
“We assisted Fuyao with not only site selection and incentives, but more importantly we worked with them as a partner to understand their business needs and present potential Ohio solutions and opportunities that would reduce their risk and accelerate their market entry.” Kristi Tanner, senior managing director for automotive, JobsOhio
JobsOhio is a private nonprofit corporation that drives job creation and economic investment in Ohio through business attraction and expansion efforts, including the automotive and advanced manufacturing industries.
Ohio is a manufacturing powerhouse, and it’s not just massive in terms of output. Companies in the state are leading the way in terms of using advanced technology in production as well.
Ohio’s automotive strength also is significant, with four major automakers — Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Honda of America Manufacturing — producing vehicles, engines, transmissions and other components in the state. Ohio’s automotive cluster can be found across the state and every aspect of the industry is represented.
“We have companies doing everything from materials and propulsion to interiors and automotive testing,” Tanner says.
Central Ohio is home to Honda North America, including its engineering and research and development operations. Honda was the first Japanese auto company to produce cars in the U.S., choosing Central Ohio more than 30 years ago. Today, Honda has more than 10,000 associates in Central Ohio.
And investment in Ohio’s automotive industry has continued to thrive. Take for example Hino Motors Manufacturing U.S.A. Inc., the commercial truck division of Toyota, which will add a facility in Central Ohio this year.
“Japanese companies like to go where other Japanese companies are located,” Tanner says. “You have the cultural infrastructure, things like Saturday schools, restaurants and grocery stores that feels more like home.”
Northeast Ohio also home to automotive
Ford’s Avon Lake facility can tout one of the rarities in the automotive industry — production of a vehicle coming from Mexico to the U.S.
“For many years, Ford produced the Econoline van at the Avon Lake plant, but Ford phased that product out,” Tanner says. “In 2011, we worked with Ford to help bring in a new product.”
With JobsOhio’s help, Ford was able to retain 1,400 jobs at the site.
GM received assistance from JobsOhio in 2012 when the automaker announced plans to invest $220 million for tooling and equipment to build the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze in its Lordstown and Parma plants.
“Thanks to Northeast Ohio’s supportive business climate, we’re able to build on a great foundation and steer the Chevrolet Cruze into the next generation,” GM Manufacturing Manager Arvin Jones said in a statement. “Special thanks go to Gov. John Kasich and his team at JobsOhio for their strong leadership and advocacy for GM and our employees.”
The Lordstown facility employs about 4,500 employees and is among the highest volume assembly facilities in the world, Tanner says.
Offering something different
A Chinese auto supplier, with some 20 percent of the global market share for automotive glass, now has an Ohio location near Dayton, thanks in part to JobsOhio.
“Fuyao Glass America Inc. needed to begin full-scale automotive glass manufacturing in the U.S. and considered multiple states in their due diligence process,” Tanner says.
“We assisted Fuyao with not only site selection and incentives, but more importantly we worked with them as a partner to understand their business needs and present potential Ohio solutions and opportunities that would reduce their risk and accelerate their market entry,” she says.
“This kind of support is helpful for any company, but especially for international companies.”
The benefits of locating or expanding a business in Ohio also point to how technology is driving the resurgence of Ohio manufacturing, says Glenn Richardson, managing director for advanced manufacturing and aerospace at JobsOhio.
“As the No. 1 supplier state to Boeing and Airbus, and the No. 2 producer of automobiles, Ohio looks to leverage this technology to grow our positions in these key industries.” Glenn Richardson, managing director for advanced manufacturing and aerospace, JobsOhio
New materials, technologies and manufacturing processes are leading the resurgence as companies and other entities develop game-changing technologies. For instance, additive manufacturing, also called 3-D printing, is making great strides in Ohio.
The National Manufacturing Innovation Institute for Additive Manufacturing, America Makes, is headquartered in Youngstown. This institute, along with many Ohio companies, is focused on later stage process and materials development to accelerate adoption of this technology.
Its charter includes workforce development, and many Ohio colleges and universities are engaged in developing curriculum for the next generation of 3-D designers, technicians and engineers.
“Ohio is also very bullish on carbon fiber,” Richardson says. “Carbon fiber is half the weight and three times the strength of steel.”
Carbon fiber is primarily used in aerospace applications, and Ohio is working with a national composite innovation institute to accelerate its use in the automotive and alternate energy industries.
“As the No. 1 supplier state to Boeing and Airbus, and the No. 2 producer of automobiles, Ohio looks to leverage this technology to grow our positions in these key industries,” Richardson says.
A key advantage that Ohio has in this energy-intensive technology is the availability of low-cost energy. Ohio sits on the Utica Shale formation and with the advent of fracking will benefit from an abundant, reliable supply of low-cost natural gas for decades to come.
Ohio also has a deep heritage in manufacturing.
“As a state we have the third-largest manufacturing workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are considered the best state for manufacturing jobs east of the Mississippi River. Ohio has more than 200 colleges and universities that offer technical degrees and graduates more than 10,000 engineers annually, providing critical talent to grow our advanced manufacturing businesses,” Richardson says.
To illustrate how JobsOhio’s assistance helped a company develop its technology, Richardson cited the example of Intelligrated, a Cincinnati-area manufacturer of automated material handling solutions.
“The company grew from a white paper in 2000 to what is now more than a billion-dollar organization,” he says.
In 2014, it wanted to add a new R&D group to accelerate technology development and expand product offerings. Intelligrated was considering its Mason, Ohio, headquarters as well as other locations it had acquired in Kentucky and Missouri.
Leveraging the talent coming from the University of Cincinnati and the business-friendly, low-tax environment in Ohio, JobsOhio was able to convince CEO Chris Cole and his leadership team that the best location to build the R&D facility was in Mason.
“JobsOhio is very proud to have played a role in their decision to expand in Ohio and is excited about their future growth potential,” Richardson says.
JobsOhio opens resources for latest-trend companies to grow
The hottest trend in manufacturing will only get more amazing in the next several years, says Rick Pollack, founder of MakerGear, a company that designs, engineers and manufactures desktop 3-D printers and accessories.
“Ohio has excellent infrastructure in terms of a strong manufacturing base. I am able to meet with my suppliers within a 30-minute driving radius, there is a strong network of people locally and we have excellent talent here.” Rick Pollack, founder, MakerGear
Developments in the 3-D process, which is also called additive manufacturing, will change how products are designed, created, purchased and delivered.
“But in 15 or 20 years, you also will see amazing developments in medicine. 3-D printing is very popular in aerospace components. I toured a factory in Germany where they are 3-D printing carbon fiber to make body panels for aircraft. It was really high-tech and impressive.”
Pollack recently took part in a trade show in Germany, which JobsOhio sponsored to showcase Ohio and its manufacturing innovation.
The show provided an opportunity to highlight Ohio as a destination for European investment and business expansion, says Glenn Richardson, JobsOhio managing director for advanced manufacturing and aerospace.
“It was a really great trip, and we got a lot of good exposure,” Pollack says. “We are growing sales in the European market in 2016, so the trade mission was an opportunity for us to find distributors to work with.”
This was Pollack’s first engagement with JobsOhio, and he praised the corporation for its assistance.
“They have great contacts in the countries, so I was meeting folks in Germany representing Ohio that I didn’t even know existed, so that was really helpful,” he says.
“The experience is helping us to open that market and find whom we can work with once we are located there.”
To design parts, MakerGear uses Solidworks CAD software to do modeling.
“We use a lot of CAD. We can model a part, simulate it and then either manufacture it in-house or work with one of our local providers to make the part for us,” Pollack says.
A native Ohioan and committed to supporting Ohio enterprises, Pollack also cites the state’s high-quality manufacturing infrastructure as a plus.
“Ohio has excellent infrastructure in terms of a strong manufacturing base,” he says. “I am able to meet with my suppliers within a 30-minute driving radius, there is a strong network of people locally and we have excellent talent here. There is a very good, high-level workforce in the region.”
Event 38 finds an ‘awesome benefit’
Jeff Taylor, CEO and founder, takes advantage of advanced manufacturing techniques in his company Event 38 Unmanned Systems Inc., which manufactures drones for agricultural and surveying purposes.
“We were really impressed with how (JobsOhio) was ready to get down to business and start helping us right away. And they really did a great job following up. They immediately hooked us up with a couple of resources.” Jeff Taylor, CEO and founder, Event 38 Unmanned Systems Inc.
“We will design a part that is custom to our drone, like accessories and clips that go onto the planes that hold things in a particular way,” Taylor says. “Then if it doesn’t have to be a huge production run, we can 3-D print 50 or 100 of them and not have to get a mold made. They are parts we wouldn’t be able to build any other way.
“We will iterate that design very quickly after making the first one, which is really nice,” he says.
In addition to 3-D printing, Event 38 also uses pick-and-place soldering for some pieces on its circuit boards.
“It picks up small parts and puts them in the right place. It builds electronics very quickly,” Taylor says.
Speaking of speed, Taylor points to how JobsOhio promptly helped Event 38 after he got in touch.
“We were really impressed with how they were ready to get down to business and start helping us right away,” he says. “And they really did a great job following up. They immediately hooked us up with a couple of resources.”
One resource was the Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center, who helped Event 38 get a Certificate of Authority, which is permission to fly drones for organizations.
“It was an awesome, huge benefit for us. We had no chance of doing that on our own,” Taylor says.
The company made its first sale in December 2011 and since then has built drones faster and faster.
“We are well into the high hundreds, and those have been deployed in 49 countries,” he says.
While many companies offer drones now, Event 38 doesn’t build drones for the sake of flying drones.
“We build drones for the sake of collecting data that we can then use to provide to the agricultural industry or the surveying industry,” Taylor says. “That’s more specific, so that lets us narrow down to a certain kind of customer. In that field it’s much less crowded, and we are able to excel at it.”
“Detroit is coming to Columbus for help with the 21st century vehicle.” Chris Rockwell, founder and president, Lextant
Chris Rockwell puts it succinctly: “Detroit is coming to Columbus for help with the 21st century vehicle.”
The one-time undisputed king of automobile manufacturing can’t do it all anymore.
“It is not so much about manufacturing as it is about the experience that people are having with it and the technologies that are going to help provide that experience,” says Rockwell about the interest automakers are showing in technologies being studied and developed by organizations such as his company, Lextant, and The Ohio State University Driving Simulation Laboratory.
Rockwell, founder and president, launched Lextant to test products with users to measure their reactions and help refine designs to create exceptional experiences for customers.
It all adds up to the efforts to put Columbus and Ohio in the driver’s seat of innovation, which translates into business growth — and that’s a main goal of JobsOhio, the nonprofit economic development corporation.
JobsOhio is very interested in what OSU and firms like Lextant are doing because their work will potentially bring thousands of jobs to the state, says Carla Bailo, assistant vice president for mobility research and business development at OSU.
The OSU Driving Simulation Laboratory
The OSU Driving Simulation Laboratory, under the direction of psychologist Janet Weisenberger, is one of the assets of the Ohio Smart Mobility Initiative that Bailo launched last year. The initiative’s goal is to leverage the assets of the university to prepare a workforce for careers in smart mobility — the idea that software, hardware and networking can combine to address transportation issues.
“The smart mobility initiative is that, fundamentally, Ohio is going to lead the nation in developing smart mobility and smart city technologies that will have a big impact in how we move people and goods and drive significant job growth,” Bailo says.
She says the initiative will address five key areas: safety, an aging society, environment, urbanization and sustainable economy.
The driving simulation lab is a partnership between OSU, Honda R&D Americas Inc. and the Ohio Supercomputer Center. It can be used by companies to conduct tests to study eye movement and body reactions to determine what factors are involved in pre-crash scenarios.
“How we are going to wake people up if they are in an autonomous product? How do we get them re-engaged because they need to take over?” she says.
Vehicle of tomorrow
Technology is flooding into vehicles now, Rockwell says, and is one of the remaining differentiators that original equipment manufacturers have in delivering customer experience.
“They know that it has to be right. It has to integrate with other technologies that we have with us, like our phones and devices,” he says.
Lextant wants to find what works best. The company will test a prototype, identify any issues and assess customer experiences with it.
“Then we will have them redesign it so that it is more intuitive, easy to use, enjoyable, minimizes distractions and maximizes enjoyment,” Rockwell says.
There is a little bit of a race between Detroit and Cupertino (Silicon Valley) to see who is going to own the vehicle interface, Rockwell says. Whatever city takes the lead will be the one who solves challenges such as the digital decay that happens now when you buy a new car.
“You are going to own that car for five or six years,” he says. “Imagine how the technology will change in those years based on what has been happening with iPhone or Android interfaces and the like.”
“People are going to expect their mobility device to be updated as quickly as a cellphone is and as seamlessly,” Bailo says.
“The smart mobility initiative is that, fundamentally, Ohio is going to lead the nation in developing smart mobility and smart city technologies that will have a big impact in how we move people and goods and drive significant job growth.” Carla Bailo, assistant vice president, mobility research and business development, The Ohio State University
“The connected and autonomous technologies are on the horizon, and they are the ones that have a lot of energy around them trying to figure out what this means for the future of transportation and mobility,” Rockwell says.
“It’s neat that Columbus is at the center of a lot of that. We are excited about it.”
How to reach: Lextant, (614) 228-9711 or www.lextant.com; Ohio State University Driving Simulation Laboratory (614) 360-3357 or www.drivesim.osu.edu