economic development

BG sees growth in manufacturers investing in robotics

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green saw growth in all of its industrial and business parks last year – with companies reporting a total of $41 million in new machinery and equipment, and another $20 million in construction. Members of the Bowling Green Economic Development Foundation met Wednesday to hear about the successes and struggles of growth in the city. A speed bump to some growth has been the difficulty attracting and retaining employees, according to Sue Clark, executive director of the foundation. The difficulty has led many businesses to make investments in their sites for technology that replaces the need for additional people, she said. “The labor force issues that have plagued us for the past couple of years remain,” Clark said. “It is still the number one issue on most companies’ minds.” Local businesses have tried to adapt by adjusting their pay scales, adding incentives for employees, becoming more creative in their recruiting tactics, and making their corporate cultures more attractive to young workers, she said. “We must work to change the stigma of manufacturing jobs as dirty, hard and low-paying,” Clark said. “Today’s manufacturers are clean, modern, high-tech and the pay is very competitive.” Dr. Russell Mills, associate professor of political science at Bowling Green State University, spoke at the luncheon about the “Rise of the Robots: Automation and Workforce Development.” In this region, industries have tried to combat the lack of an ample workforce with an increased reliance on robotics, he said. “Automation is a fact of life here,” Mills said. Mills also talked about the so called “brain drain,” encountered in Northwest Ohio – showing statistics of the number of people leaving here in their 20s, but then returning as they age. “We produce a lot of people with some sort of degrees,” he said, referring to the education level of the region. “The challenge is, they leave.” But Clark reported that local manufacturers are adapting, and are making efforts to attract workers. “It is a very changing world, and these companies are changing with it,” she said. Clark noted the local investments of $41 million in new equipment and machinery, and another $20 million in building additions. “That’s a huge number,” she said. Following is a list of the businesses that reported investments last year: Agas Americas: $200,000 investment.Apio Inc.: $550,000 investment, plus $4.45 million for a building addition.ARGO-HYTOS Inc.: $80,000…

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