Auto Industry Helps Drive Northeast Ohio

Home to more than 600 establishments that are directly involved in the automotive industry, Ohio is an automotive powerhouse. This is especially true for the Northeast Ohio region whose deep ties to the manufacturing industry continue to play an important role in the region’s economic success. From raw materials to original equipment manufacturers, the entire automotive supply chain exists in Northeast Ohio, making it a major piece of our regional economy.

Historically speaking, manufacturing has long been the backbone of Northeast Ohio’s economy with the automotive industry playing an integral role. While gross regional product (GRP) in manufacturing is projected to increase in the years ahead, employment is expected to decline, due in large part to advances in automation techniques. The automotive sector, however, is one of only two manufacturing sectors projected to add new jobs over the next decade. In fact, automotive employment is expected to grow by 19 percent by 2024. Automotive GRP is also expected to grow during this time and actually outpace the national average (Team NEO Quarterly Economic Review).

Given the region’s breadth of expertise in the automotive industry, there are a number of companies helping to cement Northeast Ohio’s position as an automotive powerhouse. The General Motors Lordstown Complex, for example, has been the proud maker of the Chevrolet Cruze since 2010. The Lordstown facility “…is among the highest volume single line vehicle assembly facilities in the world…”  producing more than 15 million vehicles since opening its doors in 1966. The Cruze is General Motor’s fourth best-selling vehicle making the Lordstown plant an important location for the automaker (General Motors).

In Brook Park, Ford’s Engine Plant No. 1 is also a significant player as the facility manufactures the popular EcoBoost engine. Built in the 1950s, the Brook Park complex was once Ford’s second largest site, covering 450 acres. Throughout 2013 and 2014, Ford spent nearly $200 million to retool the facility in order to manufacture the new EcoBoost engines. In October of 2015, Ford began training 220 workers for a second shift at Engine Plant No. 1, which boasts more than 1,500 total workers.

In addition to its Brook Park complex, Ford has also made a significant investment at its Avon Lake plant. The company began production of its F-650 and F-750 medium duty trucks in August of 2015. In order to manufacture the new trucks, Ford invested $168 million to make the necessary renovations at the Avon Lake facility. What is more, Ford moved production of the F-650 and F-750 trucks from a plant in Mexico to Ohio, furthering illustrating Ohio’s importance to the auto industry.

While Northeast Ohio has always had strong ties to America’s major automakers, it is also attracting investments from international companies. Recently, German-based auto parts maker, Borgers, opened a new facility in Norwalk, OH. The facility could employ as many as 230 people over time. Borgers’ selection of Norwalk for its facility is yet another indication of Northeast Ohio’s strength in the automotive industry.

Given Northeast Ohio’s strong manufacturing roots, the automotive industry is expected to remain as an important piece of the region’s overall economy. As manufacturing as a whole becomes more automated in terms of production, the auto industry will benefit from these production efficiencies yet it will also create new jobs for Northeast Ohio’s workers. With ongoing automotive-related investments being made throughout the region by Ford, Borgers and others, the automotive industry is on target to be an important economic driver for decades to come.

To learn more about what makes Northeast Ohio an automotive powerhouse, follow the links below.

+Team NEO forecasts rapid growth for auto business in the region

+Ford plans second shift in Brook Park for work on record-setting EcoBoost engines

+Avon Lake Ford plant starts production of trucks dubbed “The Beast”