Ohio has recently experienced unseasonably mild spring weather. Easter Sunday was a particularly lovely day. This milder weather has been beneficial to those working in construction and landscaping and to those who are working off that spare tire that mysteriously appeared over the holidays and has hung on until now. Spring is a time of renewal, a time to give thanks for all of nature’s wonders.

Seeing spring migration up close reminded me of the migration that has taken place in our state over the past twenty-five years or so. It has been a migration of our young people and other workers who have left our state because they couldn’t realize their dreams in Ohio. Perhaps it was because factories were closing or relocating; maybe their skills didn’t match up with what employers were looking for; maybe the pay wasn’t sufficient to what their family required.

This migration had a historical precedent: At the turn of the 1900s, oil and gas booms in Oklahoma and Texas triggered a mass migration from Ohio southward. That migration was duplicated over the last quarter century as companies and individuals sought a more rewarding environment. The flight of workers and companies from our state has benefitted the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida.

Fortunately, migration is now being reversed. My legislative colleagues and I are working hard to make Ohio the most attractive place to do business, whether you’re in oil and gas, or a supplier to the pharmaceutical industry, in the trucking business, or just an entrepreneur who’s willing to take a risk.

A couple of years ago, the trucking industry was struggling across Ohio, especially in S.E. Ohio. The shale plays in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio have changed that industry’s trajectory. The pipe manufacturers and steel companies are expanding and finding it difficult to hire enough workers. Petroleum engineers who were being farmed out to Louisiana and Texas are in demand here, and the list goes on.

In Marietta, we have a “Vision Project” underway to recruit new residents. It’s still ramping up with the creation of a web portal and videos of residents who have chosen to relocate to Marietta over the past several years. Washington County wants to do its best to be a magnet for those who want to come back or to put down roots in our area because economic opportunity has landed them here. More communities need to get on board with this idea, to appeal to these individuals who have moved away, to let them know just what is going on in Ohio.

We don’t want to trap our young people in Ohio; it’s a good thing that they see a world outside our borders. But if they want to make a future for themselves and their families in Ohio, we want them to have that chance. The energy investment that has come our way is making that possible. This is the best kind of migration we can hope for—a migration to opportunity, right here in S.E. Ohio.


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