We have all heard the state and national news that focused on the Owensboro economy, highlighting that we were the only city in the United States where the unemployment rate was lower this year than in 2019.
There are many contributing factors. Our economic region is comprised of a unique depth of many business and professional sectors. From health care and innovation to finance and mortgage processing, to a vibrant energy sector, we have intentionally diversified over the past few decades so we would not have all of our economic eggs in one basket. We have all seen nationally what happens to communities and cities who depend too much on one sector.
There is one sector specifically that has shown tremendous resiliency and growth — our manufacturing sector. Owensboro was named one of the top 20 places in the country to live if you work in manufacturing.
This month we celebrate this cornerstone sector of our region. October is National Manufacturing Month, and last week’s Rooster Booster was sponsored by Owensboro Community and Technical College — one of the leading educational institutions in the country for manufacturing technology and practices. OCTC’s manufacturing, construction technology, logistics, welding and robotics student success stories prove that college IS for everyone who wishes to go. But not all college degrees and certificates have to look the same.
Projections show that regardless of the advances in technology or the continued evolution of product and service distribution formats, there will always be a need and demand for companies, large and small, who still “make things.” In fact, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled in the United States over the next decade.
The Greater Owensboro region has so many manufacturers who, through their work, have not only made significant regional economic and cultural impact, but also have national and international influence. Our vibrant manufacturing sector has companies (many of them homegrown) that touch lives and economies all over the globe. The ingenuity and business acumen of these men and women constitute the manufacturing sector of our community and should be consistently appreciated. They are vital ingredients to the formula that has made our region what it is and the region that it will become.
Further, and beyond the economic impact of our manufacturing sector, we owe a great debt of gratitude to these businesses and their people for the contributions they make to the strong cultural and civic elements of our community. They volunteer in our nonprofit organizations. They invest in our culture. They are an essential fabric in our schools. They are pillars in our faith communities. They mentor our youth. Quite simply, they serve Greater Owensboro.
So, on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, we offer a heartfelt “thank you” to our manufacturing businesses, large and small, for their commitment to and investment in our region, and for the positive impact they have on all of our lives.
And to the men and women who go to work each day — even in the midst of a pandemic — to make the products we need to be safe, to produce the food we need to sustain our lives and to power the companies that invest back in our regional economy … thank you. You continue to demonstrate the best of who we are.