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Northeast Ohio is Making Major Gains Towards Becoming a Smart Manufacturing Hub

MAGNET’s First Blueprint Report Card Shows Industry Progress in Closing the Talent Gap, Adopting Advanced Technologies, Boosting Innovation, and Diversifying Leadership

Download the 2024 Blueprint Progress Report

CLEVELAND, OH (March 13, 2024) – Northeast Ohio has made a measurable leap forward on its goal to become a smart manufacturing hub. That’s the conclusion of a new report released today by nonprofit manufacturing advocacy and consultancy MAGNET. MAKE IT HAPPEN: A Progress Report on the Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio found that in the past two years, the region has improved in four key areas: talent, Industry 4.0 technology, innovation, and leadership. The original Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio was released in June 2021 by a coalition led by MAGNET and including more than 150 manufacturing CEOs and community, civic, nonprofit, and education leaders.

Key Advances:

  • For the 12 industry goals with available data to measure, the region is meeting or exceeding its targets on almost 70%. (See attached graphic.)
  • Manufacturing is growing rapidly. 10,000 new advanced manufacturing jobs have been created. That’s a third of the way to the Blueprint’s 10-year goal in just two years.
  • MAGNET’s new Industry 4.0 Index shows technology adoption has increased 80% since 2019, already approaching the 5-year goal of 100%.
  • There’s been a $3M increase in seed stage investment for manufacturing startups with the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Fund.
  • An estimated 200% more physical products startups in the region are receiving funding.
  • Innovation is driving substantial new manufacturing revenue. Manufacturers reported that 7% of their revenue – about $3.5 billion – came from new products launched in the past year.
  • The manufacturing workforce is becoming more diverse. 2,000 more people of color have entered manufacturing in the past two years.
  • 70% more manufacturers have made the region’s “best places to work” lists – an important signal that the industry is focusing on attracting and keeping the best talent.
  • The talent gap has closed slightly over the past two years. The number of manufacturing jobs that are vacant and unable to be filled dropped from 23,000 to 20,000 for entry-level to mid-skill jobs.
  • There’s been an 80% increase in women and people of color in supervisory and management leadership roles.
  • Double the number of organizations are collaborating in coalitions, alliances, and clusters. These powerful partnerships help attract the large projects and grants required to put Northeast Ohio on the map as an advanced manufacturing hub.

Key Challenges:

  • The huge leap in Industry 4.0 adoption is tempered by the fact that the region started from a very low adoption rate. So, even with this sizable increase, only a minority of manufacturers (28%) are actually using Industry 4.0 technologies.
  • 70% of manufacturers say innovation is not currently a top priority, something that must change to grow the industry’s competitiveness.
  • The slight drop in the talent gap is promising, but almost 10% of all manufacturing jobs in the region are still sitting empty, a tremendous threat to long-term success.

“By relentlessly focusing on talent, technology, innovation, and leadership – we are reinventing our industry. Despite a rollercoaster few years of pandemic, war, supply chain chaos, and the Great Resignation, Northeast Ohio manufacturing has emerged stronger,” said Ethan Karp, President and CEO of MAGNET. “Together, we’ve created thousands of jobs, improved the diversity of our industry, laid the groundwork for an innovation ecosystem, boosted Industry 4.0 technology adoption by 80%, and come together in more powerful partnerships than our region has ever seen.”

“The Blueprint Strategy is working. We’ve made gains and now we must do even more,” said Stephen Lovass, MAGNET Board Chair and Executive VP of Nordson Corporation. “We need to double-down on investments in advanced technology. We need to scale our workforce programs to create a steady stream of new, diverse entrants into manufacturing. We need to create a thriving innovation ecosystem. And we need to focus on strategic areas where Northeast Ohio has distinct competitive advantage, including EVs, polymers, additive manufacturing, precision production, and water. This will help us lead the way in smart manufacturing.”

The Blueprint Report Card data was analyzed using MAGNET’s 2023 Manufacturing Survey. The survey, sponsored by Bank of America, aims to spotlight the state of manufacturing in the region – which drives almost half the regional economy. Since 2017, it’s been providing valuable insights into the realities facing manufacturers and the trends shaping our future.


About MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network is a nonprofit consulting group on a mission to make manufacturing better. Since 1984, we’ve been proudly helping manufacturers in Northeast Ohio grow with effective workforce programs, advanced technology consulting, and innovation services. We also catalyze bigger change by rallying companies, community leaders, governments, and educators to tackle the massive, systemic problems that hold our region back. We’ve helped more than 2,000 manufacturers generate an additional $1 billion in sales, realize more than $400 million in cost savings, and create or retain 11,000 jobs in Northeast Ohio. Our work is made possible by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and the Ohio MEP. Learn more: