In real estate, it is often said that only three things matter: location, location and location. In metal production and fabrication, it boils down to the three A’s: access, access and access. And, the rest of the country is starting to recognize that Northeast Ohio is getting high marks in these categories.
Access begins with raw materials and energy sources. The regionsits on the thirteenth largest freshwater lake in the world. To the near east sits more than 25 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.Access to multi-modal transportation also sets the region apart. With six deep-water ports, three Class I railroads and five interstate highways, both the inbound and outbound flow of raw materials and finished goods is strong. Companies can easily meet the demands of nearly any supply chain while maintaining plenty of options for distributing metal materials produced here.
At the same time, access to major markets is critical. The region is within a day’s drive of 60 percent of all U.S. Fortune 500 headquarters. If you draw a triangle between New York City, Chicago and Toronto, Northeast Ohio is conveniently located in the center of these large markets. This helps drive cost and shipping efficiencies for our region’s manufacturers due to faster distribution times.
Often overlooked, access to talent is the key ingredient for every industry. Of the more than two million workers in our region, nearly 107,000 make their livings in the metal fabrication and production industries. Contrary to other parts of the country where this talent is aging-out, Case Western Reserve University, University of Akron, Lorain County Community College and the Akron Testing Laboratory and Welding School are among the 36 institutions offering programs that keep this talent pool vibrant.
Ohio is in the top three nationwide in metal fabrication (trailing only significantly larger states Texas and California). The diversity of the more than 74,000 metal fabrication jobs is particularly notable. From Timken Co. to Ridge Tool Co. to Swagelok and Eaton, manufacturers are producing a wide range of products including: primary metal products, fabricated metal products, transportation and manufacturing equipment.
In metal manufacturing, density is a familiar term for every company. And, in Northeast Ohio, many companies are taking notice of the density of talent, transportation options, major market proximity and energy sources that sets our region apart from others.