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In the shadow of an empty GM factory, Youngstown shows what manufacturing future looks like

There is of course no guarantee that the edge in additive manufacturing will turn Youngstown's fortunes. Although the area becomes a global center for 3D printing innovation – YSU hosts a World Conference on Technology 2020 – other sites also drive technology, and talent competition is fierce. Therefore, the university is also investing in research areas such as natural gas extraction and biomechanical technology to only secure its investments. "I think it's our big stack of chips," said Mike Hripko, Executive Vice President for Youngstown State External Affairs, of 3D printing. "But it's not our only stack of chips." Fewer man hours, more robots Although the technology allows manufacturing to continue in the Mahoning Valley – whether through 3D printing or other advanced techniques – it is probably still not the job of dynamo to car dealers and steel mills was in the top. Vallourec, a French steel pipe manufacturer that employs 750 people on the site of the former Youngstown Sheet and Tube factory, has automated production and removed human hands from the most dangerous parts of its process for years. Eric Shuster, the plant manager, said that thread squirrels used to require a team of 10 workers, but now only need seven or eight people. "There will be a little loss," he said. "You have to expect it. We do not see the growth of the main account." Despite technological advances that have cut the working hours involved in manufacturing, the industry says it is an urgent need…

There is of course no guarantee that the edge in additive manufacturing will turn Youngstown’s fortunes. Although the area becomes a global center for 3D printing innovation – YSU hosts a World Conference on Technology 2020 – other sites also drive technology, and talent competition is fierce. Therefore, the university is also investing in research areas such as natural gas extraction and biomechanical technology to only secure its investments.

“I think it’s our big stack of chips,” said Mike Hripko, Executive Vice President for Youngstown State External Affairs, of 3D printing. “But it’s not our only stack of chips.”

Fewer man hours, more robots

Although the technology allows manufacturing to continue in the Mahoning Valley – whether through 3D printing or other advanced techniques – it is probably still not the job of dynamo to car dealers and steel mills was in the top.

Vallourec, a French steel pipe manufacturer that employs 750 people on the site of the former Youngstown Sheet and Tube factory, has automated production and removed human hands from the most dangerous parts of its process for years.

Eric Shuster, the plant manager, said that thread squirrels used to require a team of 10 workers, but now only need seven or eight people. “There will be a little loss,” he said. “You have to expect it. We do not see the growth of the main account.”

 Frank Deley is president of Taylor-Winfield, a manufacturer that manufactures tools worldwide.

Despite technological advances that have cut the working hours involved in manufacturing, the industry says it is an urgent need for workers, as the economy is doing well and a generation of people who entered the profession decades ago, now goes in retirement. Last fall, the number of jobs was raised to its highest score on record, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These shortages of trained workers, in turn, burn further attempts to squeeze people out of the process.

Taylor-Winfield is a Youngstown-based 87-person company that has existed for over a century and manufactures tools and tools for manufacturers worldwide. It has a R&D lab with sensors and lasers that allow robotics to display products with almost no human touch.

“What we hear time and time again is that it is difficult to hire people across the country,” says company president Frank Deley. “So we understand the process, we figure out how to automate it.”

Deley hires people from local universities, the reason they usually have family ties to the area and will not only leave a better pay anywhere on the coast, it is a strategy that many companies have had to rely on, because Ohio can be a difficult place to attract people to if they

In recent years, the industry has taken this problem into its own hands.

Jack Schron runs a company called Jergens outside Cleveland, which produces hooks, racks and fasteners that keep things in place, from machines to concert systems, the products have not changed so much, but the process of making them has. One person now tends two giant machines at once, which requires special knowledge and extensive training in the workplace. Schron starts people as temps, hires them if they train and move them over the entire factory floor when they learn new things.

 Larry McRae, a CNC engineer, works on the floor of Jergens, a manufacturing company in Cleveland.

He has also driven collaboration between manufacturers, as support for shared education. Their graduates could end up elsewhere than the company where they got their skills, but overall the pool of new recruits is getting bigger.

“We trust we get our fair share,” Schron said. “We have to wake up to the fact that manufacturing is not Lordstown. It’s all we work together.”

And how are all employees of Lordstown suspended? Even with manufacturers complaining loudly about how desperate they are for workers, the jobs they have to offer are often much different than those that GM cuts.

For one thing, they need more education, which is available through various state and federal programs but difficult to implement if you are already over 50 and expect to be able to complete your working years at the facility. This may mean that you start over at the beginning, where years of employment do not matter, and to do much less than union workers did earlier.

“I think there will be some pain in that transition,” says Glenn Richardson, head of advanced manufacturing at Jobs Ohio, the state private sector’s economic development partner. “If you have to retrain, you enter an entry level. But I think the potential is there to get back to it.”

And right now, there are not a lot of training programs in 3D printing, considering how new the technology is.

Barb Ewing runs the Youngstown Business Incubator and believes in the power of entrepreneurship to revive the local economy – but less is known about the power to create enough work for everyone.

“How do you prepare your society for jobs that don’t even exist?” She said.

 As GM's seedlings in Lordstown, an iconic American job comes close to extinction

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