The recent announcement by GM of layoffs and the potential closing of the Lordstown, Ohio GM plant is doubly unfortunate – affecting thousands of families and their communities but also affecting the entire state of Ohio and the US due to the multiplier effect of the auto jobs directly affected.
Several of the most valuable companies in the world in disparate markets share something in common:
- Uber: Largest taxi company owns no cars.
- Air BnB: Largest accommodations firm owns no real estate
- Ali Baba: Largest online retailer owns no inventory
Now think about electric vehicles (EV) vs internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEV):
- Tesla: about 150 moving parts
- ICEV: about 10,000 moving parts
How will the coming revolution in EVs affect NE Ohio’s network of automotive suppliers?
When WIRE-Net began planning for 2020 and beyond and investigated the emerging technology trends that would affect the future of manufacturing, it didn’t take long to encounter the confusing terminology that’s used to describe these new technologies and their application.
Industry 4.0; Smart Manufacturing; Manufacturing 4.0; Industrial Internet of Things…etcetera. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, sometimes they distinguish between different things.
Ubuntu is a Zulu phrase which, loosely translated, implies that you are a person because of other people.
Well, WIRE-Net's 2020 VISION Strategic Direction exists because of other people. WIRE-Net's Board of Directors undertook the plan in large part because of the tremendous changes – in demographics, economics, technology, and politics – taking place in our region and in manufacturing.
WIRE-Net is finalizing its 2020 VISION strategic direction for the next three years. We’ve researched the emerging issues confronting greater Cleveland’s manufacturing sector, interviewed dozens of Ohio and United States manufacturing experts, conducted a series of manufacturing focus groups with member and non-member firms, organized a four-hour Future Search to identify and prioritize the challenges, and have been digesting this information and more to set our future direction. Over 130 people have been engaged in our 2020 VISION plan so far.
(Sorry for the obscure reference to Charlie Haden's version of the Gene Autry song!)
WIRE-Net's last full overhaul of its strategic direction was in 2013. In Northeast Ohio, we were still clawing our way out of the Great Recession, particularly in manufacturing. The changes we see now in the manufacturing sector had their genesis years ago, but the pace of change sure seems like it has accelerated. This is one of the observations from WIRE-Net's Future Search, held on April 21st.
It’s that time of year when many manufacturers are making plans for the new year, and organizations that work closely with manufacturers are doing likewise, while also trying to keep on top of changes in the manufacturing sector.
An initiative proposing a Cleveland-only 85% minimum wage increase was brought forward months ago, which would have phased in a $15-an-hour minimum wage (starting with $12 an hour in January 2018) in Cleveland while the rest of the state remained at $8.15. WIRE-Net, The Greater Cleveland Partnership, Mayor Frank Jackson, Council President Kevin Kelley and others opposed this misguided local minimum wage ballot issue because it would place the City of Cleveland at a disadvantage, hinder job creation, business growth, and the overall momentum the city is now experiencing.
First, we’ve got a Columbus based, union-backed group stirring up Cleveland residents to press for a Cleveland-only 85% increase in the minimum wage (which is currently set under Ohio law at $8.10/hour). A noble objective, no doubt, to raise the minimum wage – but for Cleveland only? There is still significant wrangling underway in Ohio courts about when this might appear on the ballot (and if it is even constitutional for cities to set their own minimum wage), but it seems very likely that it will be on the ballot within a few months, if not in November.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer recently published an editorial concerning the proposed Cleveland-only 85% increase in the City’s minimum wage.
The editorial pointed out several flaws in the approach being proposed. WIRE-Net’s survey of its Cleveland-based manufacturing stakeholders indicates that the proposal would push jobs and investment out of Cleveland.