Don’t forget south, east Ohio too

Ohio residents, particularly those of us in coal country, know full well the economy is transitioning around us. What we hope for is that such a transition will not be forced in a way that sacrifices those who spent their lives — powering a nation and feeding their families — in vilified extraction industries that are transitioning, too.

It is encouraging then, to see that in Perrysburg, in the northwest corner of the state, a solar panel makers says it plans to build a third Buckeye State factory, which will add another 500 jobs.

Companies don’t make that kind of decision based on a political whim. This is capitalism at work, if First Solar Inc. believes demand for renewable energy will support the building of another facility and the creation of hundreds of jobs.

“We’re doubling down on manufacturing in the U.S.,” Mike Koralewski, First Solar’s chief manufacturing operations officer, said.

Ohioans know how to be in the manufacturing business. We’ve proved it time and again across several industries. With this new facility, First Solar alone could employ 2,200 people in the state. Surely, once they prove the benefits of operating in Ohio and with an Ohio workforce, others will follow suit.

So while state officials are working on their incentives packages to make that happen, they must remember two things: Millions of people live in the southern and eastern sections of Ohio, too; and all that workforce needs is a little help with training and skills development to adjust career paths.

Along the Ohio River we know how to research, develop and build just about anything. When the next company comes calling, state officials will have to remember that.


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