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The opportunities and challenges of the Northeast Ohio region

Written on Sep 14, 2023

By Jessica Salerno-Shumaker, OSCPA senior content manager  

Believing in the success of Ohio means confronting challenges and working creatively to come up with solutions.  

“We have tremendous assets in the Northeast Ohio region and lots of opportunity,” said Jacob Duritsky, vice president of strategy, research and talent at Team NEO (Northeast Ohio). “But we can't capitalize on it in the right way if we're not proactive about planning for what the future of the region looks like.  

Duritsky will present at the upcoming CORE Con Core Skills Conference on Sept. 22. He’ll discuss how the Northeast Ohio economy has been performing and some of the opportunities and challenges of the region.  

One of the biggest challenges will be “demographic headwinds,” Duritsky said.  

“Unfortunately, over the past 20 years or so the region has declined by about 170,000 people in terms of population, and our labor force is down by 165,000 people,” he said. “We can't simply grow our way out of that.”  

Duritsky said there needs to be a strategic approach to address the decline, and he said appealing to women and minorities, groups that haven’t had as much access historically to employment, will be essential. Thinking about different modes of working, such as virtual or hybrid, also needs to be considered.  

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that manufacturing is dead,” he said. “The reality is that it's the single largest sector of the economy and employs 250,000 people.”   

Manufacturing is also a sector with workers disproportionately over the age of 55 and projected to leave their jobs in the next 5-7 years. Duritsky said the opportunity of approximately 100,000 projected job openings over that time can make a significant difference for drawing people to the region.  

“For most manufacturing, there are clean environments, that require some level of training and tend to be good career paths and pay good family sustaining wages,” he said.  

Finding and keeping talent will be crucial in the years ahead, Duritsky said. While drawing people from outside the state helps, efforts should be made to keep young people who go to high school and college in the area. Leaning into the opportunities growing industries have will make Northeast Ohio a key competitive player in the fight for talent.  

“We need to be intentional about the investments we're making, the sectors we're thinking about and the opportunities we have to transform,” he said. “The semiconductor industry, the future of manufacturing, modern healthcare, all of those are incredibly important to what we do here.” 

Register for CORE Con Core Skills Conference today!

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