The Century Foundation Manufacturing a Better Paying Ohio Summit was held in Cleveland on March 12. The event was a huge success with an overflow sold-out crowd and keynote address from Senator Sherrod Brown. Heartland Capital Strategies (HCS) was a co-sponsor of the event, and Ted Chandler, COO of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) and a founding board member of Heartland, gave the closing address.
As noted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Manufacturing experts, advocates, political leaders, industry and labor partners came together at the Great Lakes Science Center to discuss a new report released today about the state of manufacturing in Ohio. Highlights of the half-day summit included a panel discussion about what's working well and what needs to be done in order to restore manufacturing as an avenue to the middle class, particularly for young people, unemployed, underemployed, and communities of color.”
"We need to get more Ohioans interested in these jobs, we need to create more of them, and we need to make sure the manufacturing jobs we do have are good-paying jobs that provide opportunities to build careers," said Sen. Sherrod Brown who delivered the keynote address. "Brown also talked about the 'devastation of trade policies that have impacted manufacturing,' before venting about the downward trend of fewer unions in manufacturing and the importance of unions and collective bargaining in order to get livable wages and benefits."
Ted Chandler announced that an HIT subsidiary had invested $8.5 million in New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) in Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS), a woman/minority-owned auto supply firm, represented by the Autoworkers, with facilities in Toledo and Detroit. The investment will fuel DMS’s expansion plan, preserving 130 full-time jobs and creating 135 new full-time jobs He re-announced the HIT’s Midwest@Work Program, which is investing $1.2 billion in nine midwest cities to revitalize the Heartland. Earlier, Henry Cialone, President/CEO of Ohio-based EWI, an advanced manufacturing and technology transfer consultant, thanked HIT for its recent investment in the Northland Workforce Training Center in nearby Buffalo. HIT’s subsidiary has provided $9 million of NMTC’s for the project, which will redevelop an historic industrial complex in a distressed part of the city, to create a cutting edge manufacturing and energy training facility, set to train 300 workers a year.
Presenters shared good, real-world experiences, policy ideas and realistic conversation about the challenges facing many communities not only in Ohio, but throughout the Heartland. Speakers included State Representative Brigid Kelly, from Cincinnati; Mark Schweitzer, Senior VP of the Cleveland Fed; David McCall, Steelworkers District 1 Director; Amy Hanauer, Executive Director, Policy Matters Ohio; Sue Helper, Professor at Case Western; Debbie Phillies, Development Director of Rural Action, in Ohio Appalachia; and Bishara Addison, Sr. Manager, Towards Employment.
Dr. Lorry Wagner, President of the LEEDCo Icebreaker Project, proclaimed that Lake Erie is poised to become home to the very first freshwater wind project in North America. Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo), a Cleveland-based non-profit economic development organization, is building the Great Lakes offshore wind industry beginning with “Project Icebreaker,” a demonstration project of five to nine wind turbines located seven miles offshore. Backed by Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur and local leaders, DOE invested $40 million in the project, and local companies and world-class partners with experience in offshore projects invested another $1 million. Organized Labor has been a major booster for the project.
Cleveland was home to the first wind energy tower in America! A local engineer, credited with the invention of street lighting, built a 60-foot tower with a 56-foot rotor to generate up to about 12kW of electricity, in order to power his home. The turbine’s wheel had 144 blades and about 1,800 square feet of surface area. His home had twelve batteries and was the first to have electricity in the city. Incredibly, the wind turbine operated successfully for twenty years and supplied Brush’s home with electricity continuously, according to Scientific America.
Co-sponsored by Policy Matters Ohio and the AFL-CIO, the event was the third in a series that kicked off in June 2017 in Washington, D.C., by the "High-Wage America Project" led by The Century Foundation's (TCF) Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative (RGI). The first event was "Fighting for a High-Wage America: Reinvesting in Innovation and the Industrial Heartland" on Capitol Hill. The last event was held in Pittsburgh.
The next Heartland Cities Tour heads to Chicago, June 6th. Join us!