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Signs of Renewal - An Update on My Fighting to Renew Ohio Tour


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Here in Ohio, it's clear that times are tough. We've been hit hard by an economic downturn of historic proportions. We've seen tens of thousands of our manufacturing jobs flow to countries like Mexico. And our region has long been at an economic disadvantage, causing us to fall further and further behind.

However, realizing our economic potential has never been a stretch. I grew up right here in Appalachia, and I know as well as you do that we've been blessed by God with an unbelievable wealth of natural resources, along with the greatest, hardest workers in the world. If we don't take full advantage of the trends and jobs that we know are coming, someone else will.

Those goals are the reason I launched FIGHTING TO RENEW OHIO earlier this year, and we're starting to see early signs that our efforts are working. Many of our local businesses, educators, partnerships, and other entities are laying the groundwork for economic growth -- right now. And since embarking on this ambitious program several months ago, I've had the opportunity to see, highlight, and promote the great work already being done in our backyards.

For example, we know that there is already a demand for skilled medical professionals -- which is only going to continue growing. To address this need, Adena's PACCAR facility in Chillicothe is retraining Ohio's displaced workers to fill those much-needed jobs -- right now. By looking ahead and planning for the future, this facility is helping the displaced Ohioans learn the skills for a job that our region will greatly need -- and put them back into the workforce.

In rural counties like ours, we also face significant barriers when accessing education. However, the Morgan County Learning Center (MCLC) is overcoming those barriers with broadband, a critical piece of infrastructure that's allowing the MCLC to provide greatly enhanced educational opportunities to our neighbors. We cannot afford to miss out on these opportunities any longer, which is why we must fight for expanded broadband access across our region.

And most recently, I spotlighted JELD-WEN's window manufacturing plant in Mount Vernon, which is creating jobs as a result of simple, commonsense policies that promote energy efficiency and save consumers money. Because of programs that I've supported, JELD-WEN has been bringing good jobs to Knox County -- while enabling Ohio's working families to save critical dollars on their utility bills.

These Signs of Renewal are important steps in the right direction, but we still have a great deal of work to do. Unemployment rates have been going down, but they're still way too high. Too many Ohioans are still struggling to put food on their tables. And we have a long way to go in restoring our crumbling infrastructure.

However, if we continue to show the resiliency, innovation, and ingenuity that characterizes the Buckeye spirit, these Signs of Renewal will prove to be only the beginning of a greater revitalization. And that revitalization -- when complete -- will leave our region in a much stronger position for the future.

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