All About Chemistry

While chemistry may not have been your favorite subject in school, it plays an essential role in our everyday lives as well as our national and local economy. As over 96 percent of all manufactured goods are touched by the chemical industry in some way, the industry is a significant employer and economic contributor. To that end, the chemical industry directly employs more than 44,000 people in Ohio and indirectly employs another 130,000 people.  Closely tied to polymers, the chemical industry supports a number of end-use markets such as packaging, consumer products and building and construction.

Nationally, the chemical industry is a major economic player, representing an $801 billion enterprise. In fact, the American Chemistry Council projects that chemical sales will reach $1 trillion by 2019. This growth is spurred in part by increased light vehicle production, medical devices, packaging, electronics and building construction materials that depend on the chemical industry. Much like the nation overall, chemicals also represent big business for Ohio. As a whole, “chemistry” constitutes a $32 billion industry for the state, making Ohio the 6th largest chemistry producing state in the country. In addition to being a major economic producer, the chemical industry supports a number of well-paying jobs. The average salary for a person employed in Ohio’s chemical industry is nearly $74,000.  Just as the chemical industry plays an important role in our national and state economies, it also is pivotal to Northeast Ohio’s economic prosperity.

Fueled by downstream shale activity, Northeast Ohio’s chemical industry is reaping the benefits as development of the Utica Shale continues. Rich with natural gas liquids (NGLs), the Utica Shale is projected to have a highly transformative effect on the future of Northeast Ohio’s chemical industry. Natural gas liquids (ethane, propane and butane) serve as “crucial feed stocks for high value added products of the chemical industry” (Crain’s Cleveland). Products like adhesives, coatings, paints, textiles, plastics and more are all derived from the natural gas liquids found in the Utica Shale, illustrating just how impactful the Utica Shale play is projected to be for our region.

As such, Northeast Ohio’s chemical-related companies are well-positioned to take advantage of the close proximity to the Utica Shale, which many believe will help increase their global competitiveness.  Home to several major players in the chemical industry such as Sherwin-Williams, Lubrizol, A. Schulman, Polyone, OMNOVA Solutions and RPM International, to name a few, Northeast Ohio already boasts a thriving chemical industry, which will likely see continued growth in the years ahead as development of the Utica Shale progresses.

Ultimately, the chemical industry is an essential economic driver of our region’s economy, serving as the backbone for numerous manufactured goods while employing thousands of Ohioans. As the saying goes, it is indeed “all about chemistry.”