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True to its nature, Ohio is quietly and confidently emerging as one of the biggest markets for the composite industry. The state ranks 3rd in the US in polymers and advanced materials, and 1st in plastics and rubber.
(Published on April 2006 – JEC Magazine #24)
The past few years have been good for Ohio’s $418 billion economy and its composite industry. Many of the world’s most successful companies have chosen the state as the location for their global, national or regional headquarters. Some of America’s biggest composite firms, such as Ashland, and Owens Corning, are also based there.
The reasons for setting up shop in Ohio are abundant. Ranking 4th overall in the nation for business climate, the state has some of the most business-friendly tax programmes available. There is no property tax on investments in machinery and equipment, and no business tax on products exported out of Ohio. Moreover, all companies are taxed the same, regardless of size.
For the past two years, Edward Burghard has served as the executive director of the OBDC, a non-profit company focused on branding Ohio and strengthening the overall success of economic development in the state. A resident of Loveland, Ohio, Mr Burghard was previously an executive with Proctor & Gamble.
After earning his degrees in theoretical mathematics and business, his career began with Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals as a computer programmer. He later held managerial positions in sales administration and operations research. When the company was purchased by Proctor & Gamble, his role shifted towards marketing. In 2004 he was asked by Proctor & Gamble to provide marketing expertise to the Ohio Department of Development in support of their efforts to create the OBDC. He currently sits as the OBDC’s chairman and will be there for the next three years.
Mr Burghard is optimistic about the future of business in the state, mainly because of the distinct advantages he sees for businesses.
He said, “I am convinced Ohio’s strong and diverse regions are a key strength. The state’s unique combination of metropolitan areas and small towns means business executives can enjoy successful professional careers and fulfilling personal lives. Its unique regional economies also offer CEOs the opportunity to tailor their location choice to best match their company culture. And now, the business climate there has become even more profit friendly.”
Statistics of success
The state already employs 24,000 workers in the composite industry, representing nearly ten percent of all composite workers in the United States. Within a 1,000-kilometre radius of Columbus, there are over 162,000 composite-related jobs, which represents a $199-billion economic impact on the state from the composite industry.
Last year, over $1.6 billion was spent on research and development for polymers and advanced materials in Ohio. The state hosts a number of prestigious research and education institutions that have been at the forefront of the state’s composite research, such as Case Western Reserve University and Ohio State University.
University and federal research programs in composites and polymers in Ohio have provided companies with excellent collaboration resources, workforce development, a rich talent pool to recruit workers, and new innovations in the composites industry. This has fostered the creation of many new companies.
Many different types of composites are produced in the state, but the most common are fibre glass and carbon fibre. These two in particular continue to drive the market there and are exported all over the world, most frequently to Canada and Europe.
Ohio’s composites tend to be used in the military, wind-energy, automotive and construction sectors.
All of these are poised for significant growth and change in the coming years, which will greatly benefit the state’s composites industry. The new Energy Policy Act gives a 1.9 cent credit per kilowatt hour for the first ten years of a wind power project. In addition, high petrol prices are encouraging people to buy smaller and lighter cars, something that can be achieved if auto makers use more composites to build their vehicles.
Expanding support for the polymer and composite industry
This fall, officials at the Ohio Business Development Coalition (OBDC) announced that they were planning to expand the state’s leadership role in the polymer and composites industry. Led by OBDC chairman Edward Burghard, the group will create a ‘blue ribbon’ panel of industry experts to work with the state on defining industry needs for Ohio to expand its leadership role.
Mr Burghard said “We want the world to know Ohio means business. The state has a strong story to tell. Recent public policy reforms are a great reason for capital investment decision makers to take a hard second look at Ohio.”
Furthermore, the OBDC is hoping to team up with industry expert groups that are involved in developing the infrastructure to support new industries and work with them to increase the ability of the state to nurture and develop the polymer and composite industry.