Dreaming Big in 3-D

By Brad Whitehead, Fund for Our Economic Future, for Community Leader

About a dozen years ago, I was transitioning from business to economic development and evaluating regional opportunities. I distinctly remember the moment when a prominent civic leader pulled me aside and cautioned me that while our region had some latent potential in biosciences, we were too late to the game and the sector would never amount to much for us. Nonetheless, key Northeast Ohio leaders and their institutions dreamed big anyway.

Fast forward a decade—through innovations by our scientists, leadership from our research institutions, prudent risk-taking by our entrepreneurs, enlightened interventions from the public sector, unwavering support from philanthropy, and a big assist from favorable market conditions—our region has emerged as a global leader in many sectors of this industry. Biosciences is now a Northeast Ohio growth engine. In the last three years alone, young companies have created more than 1,000 jobs at an average wage of more than $60,000. Capital to this industry has exceeded $200 million annually for the last five years, up by a factor of eight from a decade ago.

Not bad for a bunch of latecomers.

A recent assessment conducted by Team NEO, MAGNET, Youngstown Business Incubator, and America Makes, with financial support from the Fund for Our Economic Future, suggests that it may be time to think big again—this time, in the area of additive manufacturing.

See page 26 of the November issue of Community Leader for the full story.