You cannot overstate the importance of the auto industry to this corner of Ohio.
It’s the core to our manufacturing base.
Within an hour’s drive from Lima, there is the Ford engine plant, a General Motors foundry in Defiance and Honda plants in Marysville, Anna, Russells Point and East Liberty.
But more so is the supply chain that feeds these factories. Those sectors include companies that specialize in metal coating, electrical equipment, plastics, rubber products, truck transportation, warehousing and auto dealerships.
Suffice to say, that’s a ton of jobs. Or, to put it another way, that’s a lot of people who shop at local retailers, eat at local restaurants, buy houses, pay taxes … well, you get the picture.
Our ties to the auto industry are something we cannot afford to take for granted, especially in this age of constant technological change involving electric engines and autonomous cars (self-driving vehicles). The change is happening fast and is unforgiving in how it can reshape a community.
Lima Mayor David Berger compares it to the 1950s when the Lima Locomotive Works missed the technology change from steam to diesel and found itself out of business.
“That same effect, in terms of a technology-driven disruption, is going to happen as the country moves to an electric or an autonomous fleet,” Berger said. “People need to get this on their radar.”
Berger chairs the Lima Automotive Task Force, a group of around 18 local stakeholders from the automotive, educational and government sectors. They meet five times a year and have hooked up with the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to share information on the latest developments in the industry.
“There is a huge array of options and players looking to get in the market. The changes that are happening are immediate, not five or 10 years away,” Berger said.
With that, the task force has its concerns.
Berger noted, “The innovation and product development in the private sector is all out-racing the public side of this. These autonomous vehicles are being deployed and tested in communities and none of us are ready for it.”
Roads need improvement to safely support this new technology. That means federal, state and local governments, automakers, and material manufacturers need to work together to create the roads of the future.
“Sorting all of this out is going to be difficult,” Berger lamented.
Or, in other words, be prepared to deal with “a technology-driven disruption.”
ROSES AND THORNS: The rose garden is getting a major renovation with the addition of a basketball court and swimming pool.
Rose: To Dakota Mathias, of Elida. He signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday. The 6-foot-4 guard was Purdue’s career leader in 3-point shots with 250 and was named to the Big Ten All-Defensive team the last two seasons.
Rose: To Saundra L. Neely of Ada, affectionately known as the “Swimming Lady.” Neely was honored with proclamations from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Ada Mayor David Retterer for her 50 years of teaching swimming and water safety to the residents of Ada. A bronze plaque, which hangs in the newly renovated Ada pool house, honors her.
Rose: To JoAnn DeHaven, of Lima. Her idea was featured Tuesday in the nationally syndicated comic strip “Pluggers.” JoAnn noted, “Pluggers shop online but still use the toll free number to place their order.”
Rose: To Margaret and Ronald Kirwan, who will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary on Wednesday. They have eight children, 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Rose: To Jean and Bill Bell Jr. of Elida, who celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary Sunday with a family gathering. They have two children,three grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Thorn: To Codie B. Rostofar, 22, of Buckland and Danielle Sudman, of St. Marys. They both fled the scene after being involved in a motorcycle and ATV wreck that killed a Wapakoneta man.
Thorn: Excitement turned to good-natured disappointment when a time capsule buried 12 years ago at Lima Stadium was opened. Much of the content inside was destroyed by water.
PARTING SHOT: Change is inevitable … except from a vending machine.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.