Op-Ed Column – June 2023


June 25, 2023


By:  Rick Platt

The Cherry Valley Bridge was shut down for more than half a year, and the reverberations were felt across several communities.  Those among us who weren’t sure we needed a new bridge, got their minds changed quickly.

The case for improvements to the Thornwood Drive Corridor are more than relieving the pain from a bridge shut down, though.

Consider these points:

We Need to Get Prepared for Future Growth

Manufacturing is coming back to our shores and Licking County is a microcosm of this reshoring.  Our Port Authority campus in the heart of the Thornwood Corridor has seen a 40% increase in jobs in the last three years.

Intel benefits.  Traffic engineers tout the fact that the shortest distance and time of travel between Intel and points east, is the Thornwood Corridor.  Improvements will only make that through-flow of traffic for Intel suppliers stronger.  It’s notable that the first new Intel supplier in Ohio is located in a building in the Thornwood Corridor.

Getting the improvements to the Thornwood Corridor moving are critical to continuing to capitalize on the economic benefits of reshoring.


Uncle Sam He Has a Role

When jobs come back to our country, it’s the federal government that has the most to gain in tax growth.  Reshored jobs increase the U.S. tax base and manufacturing jobs strengthen the heart of our national economy.

So, it’s totally appropriate that Congressman Troy Balderson and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown were successful in getting $4 million appropriated for Newark in the recent federal budget.  These efforts are a big help to fund the next big Thornwood Corridor project.

When the final state budget comes out, we’ll be hopeful that additional state funding has been secured which will allow the corridor to advance sooner rather than later.

Local funding can close the gap.  The Port Authority has volunteered to help.


We Need to Answer Existing Companies’ Growth Demands

Though the news of 70 diverse companies making investments and creating jobs over decades doesn’t get the attention one big announcement can, the impact is no less vital at local, state, and national levels.

A recent look at the five industrial parks in the Corridor makes the case for devoting attention to getting the Thornwood Corridor advanced:

  • There are 1,600 acres with more than 500 acres ready to go for future, manufacturing-oriented development.
  • Manufacturing brings the highest-paying jobs and the combined $385 million payroll stands out.
  • Already, there are over 8,500 people employed in the Corridor with more jobs on the way.
  • The Corridor’s companies combine to over 10 million square feet of mostly manufacturing space. It’s the largest manufacturing corridor in Central Ohio with a diverse mix of companies.

If population matters, we have that too.  Consider the fact that, if Granville, Newark, Heath, and Hebron were combined, they would rank as the seventh-largest City in Ohio.

Join us.  Supporters in the Corridor aren’t asking for a four-lane, divided highway.  We are asking for a safer and sensible route for our people and our freight to travel.  The case is clear.

# # #

Rick Platt is the President and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, a regular development column writer, and a father of four and grandfather of one who lives in Newark.  He is a Board member of JobsOhio. 

By |2023-11-29T10:51:42-05:00June 25, 2023|News Releases|Comments Off on Op-Ed Column – June 2023

Board Elects Officers


June 15, 2023


HEATH, OHIO –  The Board of Directors of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority elected officers at its regular June meeting.  Steve Layman was re-elected Chairman and Fred Paul was re-elected Vice Chairman/Secretary for one-year terms.

Layman has served as Chairman of the Port Authority Board since 1998.  He is a Licking County appointee to the Board and is a real estate broker with Shai-Hess Commercial Real Estate.

Paul has served as Vice Chairman/Secretary since 2014.  He is a Heath appointee to the Board and is retired from Rockwell and C-TEC.

The Board of Directors consists of nine members, three appointed by each of the City of Heath, City of Newark, and Licking County Commissioners.  The Port Authority owns and develops the Central Ohio Aerospace & Technology Center in Heath and is the largest self-sustaining port authority in Ohio.

For more information, visit the Port Authority’s web site at http://www.HNLCPA.com.

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By |2023-11-29T10:52:36-05:00June 15, 2023|News Releases|Comments Off on Board Elects Officers

Op-Ed Column – March 2023


March 16, 2023


By:  Rick Platt

Whether it’s the two biggest capital investment announcements in Ohio history in 2022 or the very real statewide manufacturing resurgence, Ohio is on a trajectory for growth and opportunity which most Ohioans haven’t seen in our lifetimes.  Governor Mike DeWine is right to say, “It’s Ohio’s time.”

Though the idea of getting used to growth could mean different things in different parts of our state, there’s clearly one thing in common:  Ohio is poised to grow in a way that hasn’t been experienced for generations.

Manufacturing never truly left, but certainly the narrative about its importance to Ohio and the nation is back in a way that we can expect will continue.  “We are amidst a once-in-a-generation shift of global manufacturing footprints, and 2023 should continue to be a year of opportunity for manufacturers in the United States,” predicted national site consultant Michelle Comerford in January.  Axios reported that U.S. manufacturing growth at the end of 2022 outpaced the rest of the planet year-over-year, and the report added the comment, “for the first time in recent memory.”

Ohio is the third largest manufacturing state.  Per capita, Ohio outpaces the other two. Therefore, national manufacturing growth equals Ohio manufacturing growth.

Big cranes and big earth movers are the early signs of growth.  It’s great to see cranes are arriving and concrete is waiting to get poured at Intel’s Ohio fabs in Jersey Township in Licking County right now.  A drive by on Interstate 71 through Jefferson Township in Fayette County shows work has already begun for Honda as well.

Jobs are the next sign.  Manufacturing employment in Ohio is very nearly back to pre-pandemic levels even before new hiring has started for the announced projects.  At least a quarter of Ohio’s counties are within commuting distance of the Intel and Honda sites.

Manufacturing brings wider growth opportunities too. Some of the best jobs and tax base growth are with suppliers.  Intel already finds suppliers in 22 of Ohio’s 88 counties as they look to find more vendors in the state.  Honda boasts a supplier presence in 55 Ohio counties with the potential to widen.

Getting ready for growth also means preparing to welcome back homesick Ohioans and new Ohioans.  Put out the welcome mat.  Over the years, Ohioans have been dispersed.  Job opportunities are the pathway back home.

It’s already happening.  For two of the last three years, U-Haul has ranked Ohio in the top 10 states for growth when it looked at its rental truck trends as an indicator.  Returning to Ohio is a one-way U-Haul trip.

To me, a guy who grew up in a steel town that doesn’t make steel anymore, growth equates to opportunity.  I’m optimistic that my kids’ and my grandkid’s future opportunities to make a living in Ohio are better than they were when I grew up.  I am lucky to know Ohioans in all corners of our great state, and I’m certain that sort of parental aspiration is a statewide sensation.

It will be great to get used to growth commonplace in Ohio.

# # #

Rick Platt is the President and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, a regular development column writer, and a father of four and grandfather of one who lives in Newark.  He is a Board member of JobsOhio. 

By |2023-11-29T10:54:00-05:00March 16, 2023|News Releases|Comments Off on Op-Ed Column – March 2023

Op-Ed Column – January 2023


January 15, 2023


By:  Rick Platt

I’m a student of family history research.  I know that, in one branch of my family, my third great grandparents came to Ohio over 150 years ago from Germany.  Their granddaughter, my great grandmother, left the state but later came back.  In that same family branch, my grandfather left Ohio. He graduated high school and college on the West Coast but came back to Ohio 85 years ago.

Coming to Ohio, and coming back to Ohio, had a common reason among my ancestors.  The reason in every generation:  Opportunity.

I can’t help but think my personal family history trends could be a pattern for other families all over Ohio as the development announcement news of the last few years gets realized in job opportunities opening up. Ohio history has historical examples of windows of job opportunities that bring people to Ohio for the first time or homesick Ohioans back home for good.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine used his second inaugural remarks to call for legal immigrants and people interested in seizing opportunity to “come to Ohio.” The Governor is on to something. Use of his bully pulpit is spot on.

JobsOhio CEO J.P. Nauseef labels what we are experiencing in development announcements in Ohio as “generational opportunities.”  He’s right.

2023 will be that year.  Licking County is at the heart of it.

New projects are getting more real.

Behr Paint will open a new building which will be the third largest on the Port Authority’s campus in Heath that boasts 80 years of manufacturing development.  The building will be ready this Summer.

Amgen’s building in Western Licking County is going up fast.  Little known fact:  Amgen is already hiring and quietly opened up in a new speculative-built industrial building in Heath last June.

Intel could start hiring in 2023, including internships with a promise of a permanent job when the facility is ready to open.  Follow Intel.com/Ohio.

It’s a good bet that those of us in the development community are focused on helping ensure our existing industry has the chance to grow too.

Boeing is at its highest employment level in over 20 years.  They’re still hiring at jobs.Boeing.com.

Transcendia’s new building in Union Township looks great.  Jobs are there.

The list is long and wide in manufacturing in Licking County.

These now-emerging generational trends can continue as long as we continue to work, as a community and a state, to seize the opportunity before us.

Let’s all make it our job.  Welcome homesick Ohioans back home. Welcome new Ohioans here.

National author Joel Kotkin, who has been a frequent visitor to Ohio and Licking County, has his finger on the pulse of opportunity in manufacturing.  Kotkin recently wrote in a national column, “History is calling on North America, and the future depends on how we respond.”

What a great time to be in Ohio.  What a great time to be in Licking County.

# # #

Rick Platt is the President and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, a regular development column writer, and a father of four and grandfather of one who lives in Newark.  He is a Board member of JobsOhio. 

By |2023-11-29T10:45:56-05:00January 15, 2023|News Releases|Comments Off on Op-Ed Column – January 2023

Planning Committee Meeting


January 4, 2023


HEATH, OHIO –  The Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority has scheduled a meeting of the Planning Committee of the Board of Directors, for Tuesday, January 10 at 3:30 p.m.  The purpose of the meeting is to review plans and concepts for redevelopment and development of Port Authority-owned real property.

Note a location different than typical meeting locations for the Committee.  The meeting will be conducted at 1425 Mount Vernon Road, Newark.

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By |2023-07-06T10:43:54-04:00January 4, 2023|News Releases|Comments Off on Planning Committee Meeting
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