DAVOS, SWITZERLAND: Gov. John Kasich made his first speech as governor on a global stage Thursday as part of a panel discussion on advanced manufacturing at the World Economic Forum.
The Republican governor delivered, as planned, an account of his plans to better align Ohio’s worker training and education programs to fit businesses’ demands and a pitch regarding the state’s improved economic situation. Among the new items Kasich divulged:
He expects Ohio’s rainy day fund to hit $1 billion on June 30.
Consulting firm Accenture is helping the state craft an on-line program for businesses to divulge their short and long-term work force needs.
He touted the “additive manufacturing” capabilities of the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus.
Kasich was joined on the panel by Jean-Paul Herteman, chief executive officer of the French Safran Group; Andres Renchler, chief executive of Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses in Germany, and Anand Sharma, commerce minister of India. The panel was moderated by Richard Baldwin, international economics professor at the Swiss Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.
Kasich’s opening remarks followed a lead-in question from Baldwin. Each speaker made an opening statement and took questions. Some of Kasich’s statements were based on some of the other participants’ comments.
• Baldwin: “Your state is at the heart of what people are calling reshoring, or the American manufacturing renaissance. Do you view this as sort of a lasting trend, or is this just a bump on the road — the road which takes us to all manufacturing jobs going to Asia?”
• Kasich: “Well, first of all, people would like to have access to the North American market, and with the transportation costs, we see a number of companies on-shoring to Ohio. Just a couple of things — we’re within 600 miles of 60 percent of the country, so right away it makes sense to be in Ohio.
“But I think what is maybe even more fundamental than that, I mean we do have DNA in our bones when it comes to manufacturing, but two years ago when I entered office we were $8 billion in the hole. Our budget is about $52 billion a year ... And we’re going to end this fiscal year we think with probably a $1 billion surplus, also with an improved credit outlook. So Ohio is very stable.
“What we’re trying to do is to diversify so that we not only do manufacturing but we can do a variety of other things as well.
“In the manufacturing area, even though Ohio is doing better, you know, we’re out of debt, we’re growing, we’re now the fifth-fastest growing state in the country, we think that work force, he (Herteman) was just talking about, is such a critical issue. I’m devoting an enormous amount of time to work force, and the biggest challenge is getting the companies to tell us what they need, their forecasting ... in the short run and what they need in the intermediate run. ...
“So we are building a process using market data, also using a website powered by Monster, and also a tool developed by Accenture to get companies to start telling us what they need. Our goal is to integrate the business community into the academic environment. And also starting even in the high school, because we believe that vocational education, where people decide they want to do things with their hands. But now it’s not hands anymore. It’s not just hands and brains.
“We talk about additive manufacturing ... we are a leader in additive manufacturing right in Columbus, Ohio. The Edison Welding Institute has one of these 100 machines in the world where they can develop, they can print out and develop huge parts. ... And they can put these parts together in such a way that they can bring different materials.
“And as a result of that, companies like GE, which is worried about being able to fly planes faster, have strong materials and yet less fuel costs ...
“Here’s the beauty of it — when you think about robotics, when you think about additive manufacturing ... the first question you want to ask yourself ... is this going to put people out of work? And consistently across the board the answer is no.
“What this will mean is that it will bring great value to the operation that any worker must conduct. And the worker will actually get more pay. ...
“There are very few places in the world where we have figured out work force training. This is one of the great demands for businesses today.”