Licking County has a rich history of being a place where people make things. Our community's manufacturing legacy is strong indeed. The key to that legacy always has been education.

Licking County has a rich history of being a place where people make things. Our community's manufacturing legacy is strong indeed. The key to that legacy always has been education.

One thing remains true: Businesses and manufacturers would not be here if their work force did not want to live here. Quality of life and quality of the community are critical to economic growth. The ability to attract and keep a work force rests on quality schools. Businesses looking at Licking County have found us to be a place that could provide an environment in which working people want to live and send their kids to be educated. They've also experienced this is a place that could provide a future work force.

This link between economic development and education will become more evident in the future.

Fifteen months ago, I had a business prospect tour our area as the possible location for a high-tech steel-fabrication facility. This was a sought-after project with sites viewed in nearly every state east of the Mississippi. This prospective company's deep-dive look into where to locate was illustrative of the type of competition for capital investment we can expect to see more of in the not-too-distant future. Again, education was the key.

Licking County's site made it to the final five. Our strength to survive so deep into a highly competitive process of elimination was our ability to show that we could not only provide a piece of land that was ready to be built on with competitive financial incentives, but also that we could prove to satisfy the tough-to-satisfy work-force needs of a modern manufacturer.

For one, the company wanted to find a place to which some of their key management would be willing to move. Then, with 50 percent of their work force being engineers, they also needed to find a place that could keep, attract and produce engineering talent. Lastly, and just as importantly, they needed to find a place that could provide a steady work force of highly skilled technicians with welding, slitting and other metalworking skills.

The key to all three was education, and it was a strength in Licking County.

Can we sustain that strength?

With several school districts seeking financial support on the May ballot, it's easy to see that the message we want to send manufacturers and those that make multi-million-dollar capital-investment decisions rests in all of our hands.

We can show we truly support growth of our community through support of our schools.

Rick

Platt