Regional economy is picking up steam - Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Regional economy is picking up steam

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It's a question a lot of you would like an answer to, what is the long term economic outlook for Northwest Ohio? That was just one of the topics at Friday's State of the Region Conference in Perrysburg.

There are some encouraging signs, but it is a slow process. In fact, economists say we are in the midst of the slowest economic recovery from a recession since they started keeping records. But business is picking up and there may even be a shortage of workers in some fields.

Dr. Michael Carroll is an economist who heads up Bowling Green State University's Center for Regional Development, "We are recovering but very slowly. We lost 47,000 jobs in the 17 county Northwest Ohio region during the recession. We've gained about 5,000 back. We are gaining momentum slowly and the good news is that the jobs are in the right sector."

Dr. Carroll says manufacturing jobs, especially in the automotive sector, will help drive our recovery along with things like health care and construction. He says we may even see a shortfall of some specialized workers, "Whirlpool is re-shoring jobs, meaning they are bringing back jobs from other countries to the plant in Clyde. They are concerned about being able to find enough skilled tradesmen with proper math sets and deductive reasoning, all the skills they need in new manufacturing."

Hundreds of new jobs have been created at CSX's Intermodal facility just outside North Baltimore. Rusty Orben is the Director of Public Affairs for CSX transportation,"Currently we employ about 300 people on site and that includes CSX employees as well as local vendors and support contractors. that number is a little ahead of our expectations, which is a good sign."

Orben says the success at the Intermodal facility isn't limited to the immediate area,"We made the investment because that is where the market was leading us, but we also recognize the local development opportunities. Those opportunities are not only in Wood and Hancock counties, but throughout Northwest Ohio."

Experts say working as a region as opposed to individual cities or counties is paying off. Jeannette Tamayo is the Chicago Regional Director of the US Economic Development Administration in Chicago. She was the keynote speaker,"We're on an international stage and if we're going to compete globally it is regional collaboration that will allow us to compete effectively."

Dean Monske heads up the Regional Growth Partnership,"Are the jobs coming back as quickly as we'd like or at the pace of the economic growth 10-20 years ago? No, but things are going in the right direction and I would rather have sustainable growth than valleys and hills."

About 300 civic and business leaders from more than two dozen counties in Northwest Ohio were part of the conference.



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