In this editorial, the Plain Dealer weighs in on Ohio’s recovery and some recent victories in Northeast Ohio. Read more below:
The aftershocks of the Great Recession aren’t over yet — far from it, especially with continuing economic turmoil in Europe. But the past few days have brought sharp rays of hope about the prospects for recovery in Greater Cleveland and across the northern tier of Ohio.
A new analysis from Team Northeast Ohio found that the 18-county area it serves added nearly 8,000 net jobs during the past year, a boost that helped drop the regional unemployment rate to 8.5 percent. That’s still far too high, of course, especially for the 100,000 or so people looking for work here. But it does mean that the jobless rate in this corner of Ohio is lower than the statewide number or the national figure. Since during previous recessions, this region has fallen further and recovered more slowly than the nation, that’s a good sign.
Better yet, this improvement is linked to the region’s historic strength in manufacturing. Firms that make things employed 30,000 more people in the third quarter of this year than during the same time last year. This reflects a number of trends: continuing local efforts to develop new products and improve methods; a weaker dollar enhancing exports; equipment orders from the emerging gas exploration industry in eastern Ohio.
Two more major pieces of good news emerged Wednesday. In Toledo, Chrysler executives announced plans to invest roughly $500 million in the complex there that makes the Jeep Liberty and Dodge Nitro and to add 1,100 workers. In Lorain, Republic Steel officials announced they will spend more than $85 million to add an electric arc furnace to produce an extra million tons of steel each year. The expansion, executives said, will create 450 new jobs.
In both instances, the Ohio sites had to compete with plants elsewhere. State incentives played a role — one reason that Gov. John Kasich was on hand for the announcements — as did the availability of experienced manufacturing workers and unused plant capacity.
The road back to prosperity requires Ohio to do more to align public policy with existing assets to compete in a fast-changing market. The federal and state governments need to make more strategic investments to drive innovation, as Ohio’s Third Frontier program has done. But this week’s news suggests past efforts are paying off — and it can be done.
You can read the original editorial here.