LIMA — One of the main cogs for the economy of Lima and Allen County is manufacturing, and on Friday, a group of professionals from across the state came to Lima to learn more about the challenges and innovations this industry faces.
Much like Allen Lima Leadership, Leadership Ohio brings professionals together to tour various areas of the state on a monthly basis, covering such areas as the economy, the government, state history, arts and culture and more. On Friday, the group visited Joint Systems Manufacturing Center before continuing the day at Apollo Career Center and the Bob Evans plant at Gateway Commerce Park off state Route 65. Saturday will consist of meetings at the Lima Family YMCA with community health and other advocacy groups, including Crime Victim Services.
“Today we’re talking about manufacturing, and tomorrow, we’ll be talking about public and community health,” according to Allen Lima Leadership executive director Heather Rutz, who served as host for the group. “We’re really trying to highlight the transition we’ve gone through here in terms of the manufacturing workforce and what that looks like today, how we’re supporting that and filling those jobs.”
For Leadership Ohio executive director Kathy Rednour, seeing places like the tank plant and the Bob Evans plant, which handles the company’s restaurant and retail supply of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese, was very illuminating.
“The class was amazed at the technology that is being used in manufacturing nowadays,” she said. “Because most of them are living and working in big cities like Cleveland and Columbus and Cincinnati, they were amazed that there was all this technologically advanced manufacturing in a smaller community like Lima.”
The group also learned about local initiatives such as Link Lima and Makerfest, which aim to supply the skill sets needed for the next generation of manufacturing employees.
“We’re looking at how they are educating people to make sure we have the workforce to sustain this new technology,” Rednour said.
Rutz was hopeful that getting firsthand experience in the Lima manufacturing sector could prove helpful for other parts of the state.
“I wanted to show them two things,” she said. “One is what a community that makes things looks like. And the second thing, and one of the things they’re listening for, are good local responses to statewide issues, ideas they can take back to their own communities.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.