Service Centers

ASD President Tells Group: Let’s Bring Sexy Back!

Written by Sandy Williams

“Let’s bring sexy back to steel!” That was the rallying cry of Associated Steel Distributors President Brian Robbins at the regional meeting held at the Ritz Carlton in Cleveland, Ohio on September 18.

Robbins, CEO of MidWest Materials, harkened back to the days of steel glory when CEOs were celebrities of sort and even sales managers held positions of respect in their communities. After a few years (or decades) it was no longer “cool” to be in the steel industry. It is time for the steel industry to be recognized once again as a backbone of our economy and society, said Robbins. He suggests that attendees increase the visibility of their steel companies through charitable events, sports sponsorship and community involvement.

Robbins comments were an appropriate segue to the presentation by the managing director of advanced manufacturing and automotive for JobsOhio, Kristi Tanners.

JobsOhio, a private nonprofit economic development entity, was initiated by Governor John Kasich in 2011. The unique nature of JobsOhio comes from its funding source. In 2013 Ohio’s state wholesale liquor franchise was leased to JobsOhio for a period of 25 years. The liquor enterprise brings in approximately $100 million annually that is used to help attract and grow Ohio companies and jobs. Tanners said the unique funding lets them say “Drink for Jobs.”

Tanners says JobsOhio has helped 800 companies in the last three and a half years to create 65,000 jobs for Ohio workers. Approximately 80 percent of the growth and new investment comes from companies already in existence in Ohio.

Ohio is an ideal state for investment says Tanners. Located within 600 miles of 60 percent of US and Canadian manufacturing, Ohio has one of the lowest tax rates on new capital investment, just 4.4 percent. Ohio has one of the largest workforces, employing over 650,000 workers at more than 15,800 manufacturing plants and firms. Manufacturing accounts for 18 percent of Ohio’s GDP.

Ohio is also ideal for companies that export said Tanners, “If you make steel in Ohio and sell it outside of the state it is not being taxed.”

The big “game changers” for economic development are: big data, talent, infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, and shale energy—not only for Ohio but globally, said Tanners.

Also on the ASD agenda was the announcement of the first three awards from the ASD/Keith Busse Scholarship program. The program offers scholarships of up to $2000 for children of ASD member employees who have been accepted to a two or four year college, graduate program, or vocational school.

The evening events ended with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and plenty of congenial networking. The next ASD meeting will be the ASD 2014 Fall Conference to be held in Las Vegas, Oct. 31 & Nov. 1 at Caesars Palace.

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