Factory jobs remain vital

The Dayton-Springfield manufacturing base is a powerful force for economic revitalization and represents one of the strongest manufacturing clusters in the nation, research by the Dayton Development Coalition shows.

A key finding is that the concentration of higher-wage skilled industrial jobs here is twice that of the rest of the nation and up to five times the national average for auto parts manufacturing.

This newspaper obtained exclusive pre-release access to the Coalition’s report, which reaffirms the importance of manufacturing to the area’s economy.

Manufacturing jobs have been rebuilding steadily since 2008, with some sectors such as aerospace parts and research and development posting major gains. Other sectors are catching up to pre-recession levels, while others still remain down by thousands of jobs, the Coalition’s analysis shows.

These jobs are prized because they offer relatively high pay and support for other jobs in the area. The Coalition’s analysis and survey show that full-time manufacturing jobs in a 14-county area pay from $44,062 to $84,920 a year, including benefits, with the 2013 average of $70,365.

The high concentration of manufacturing here is a big draw for new industrial businesses because 48 percent of manufacturers’ spending flows back to other manufacturers, the Coalition said. New warehousing and logistical operations close to the Interstate 75/Interstate 70 interchange are adding to the area’s appeal.

The report will be used to help recruit new companies. It includes an analysis of the composite materials, manufacturing services, machinery, auto parts, aerospace, logistics and transportation and research and development sectors

“Manufacturing is a very important driver industry for the Dayton region. We have the capabilities to support some of the world’s fastest growing industries, and it’s critical to communicate that to companies looking to grow and expand their supply chain,” Kristy Rochon, senior director of strategy and communications for the Coalition, said Thursday.

Historically, the paper said, Ohio’s greatest strengths were in transportation equipment manufacturing, fabricated metal, machinery, plastics and chemicals, paper and printing, and food manufacturing.

“The downturn of the automotive industry and the recession severely impacted the economy, but Ohio is recovering quickly and rebuilding its manufacturing capacity,” the report said.

While total manufacturing jobs are down from 110,084 in 2008 to 84,518 in 2013, aerospace parts manufacturing has grown in that period from 3,940 to 5,440, and research and development has posted a smaller gain from 10,976 to 11,696. Auto parts jobs remain down from 18,295 to 15,620.

Composite materials, which employs 9,000, is concentrated at 2.5 times the national average, manufacturing services at 2.16 times, machinery 3.14 times, auto parts 5.67 times, aerospace parts 2.52 times, logistics and transportation 1.53 times, and research and development close to the national average at 0.85 times, but growing.

Nationally, the Dayton region ranks fourth in the nation as a manufacturing-intensive area. Only Detroit, Greenville, S.C., and Grand Rapids, Mich., outrank the Dayton-Springfield area for manufacturing industry concentration.

Distribution, logistics and transportation operations have recently shown special interest in locations near the I-70/75 interchange with increasing inquiries, said Erik Collins, Montgomery County’s Economic Development Director.

In June, Independent Can Company, a leading manufacturer of specialty metal packaging, selected Vandalia as the site for a new 98,500-square-foot warehouse. Last year, White Castle began building a food processing plant in Vandalia. Earlier this year, Trimble Navigation in Huber Heights announced a new warehouse.

“With distribution could come more manufacturing,” Collins said. “They can reduce their transportation costs and be closer to customers. We are not up yet to break even to the pre-recession levels, but we are seeing a climbing out of it.”

Collins said the county’s BusinessFirst! program’s contacts with area CEOs indicate companies are hiring, especially in the metal fabrication, paper, plastics, and equipment categories.

Heath MacAlpine, assistant director of workforce development for Montgomery County, said, “We need to continue to work on communicating not just to employers that this is a great place for manufacturing, but to people in the region that manufacturing is a viable and growing industry and a great career.”

Revitalizing manufacturing and reshoring production to the U.S. has been a hot topic. President Obama is embarking on a series of speeches on the economy, stressing manufacturing, and has vowed to create a million new manufacturing jobs.

On July 12th, the Alliance for American Manufacturing released a 370-page book titled “ReMaking America,” at The City Club of Cleveland, the first stop on a book tour. The group is a national domestic business advocate supported by major manufacturers and the United Steelworkers union.

“There are still a lot of things not getting done,” Alliance President Scott Paul said. “One is to change the economic policy system to support manufacturing, running the gamut from tax policy to workforce training.

“The economy is churning out jobs, but generally speaking, they are low-wage jobs in the service sector” Paul said. “If you focus it on manufacturing, the value-added and service jobs will come.”

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