Meet the new Cardiac Kids: Cleveland's manufacturers.
Data released earlier this week shows that manufacturing, which has been a drag on the region's economy for the past two decades, now is fueling its recovery.
With high-tech, advanced-manufacturing techniques taking hold — and key sectors such as plastics and rubber hitting their stride — the region's manufacturing gross regional product is projected to grow by 39% between 2010 and 2020.
By contrast, U.S. manufacturing output is projected to grow by 33% during that same time period.
The projections come from Team NEO, a nonprofit economic development organization representing Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown — once-mighty manufacturing hubs that, until recently, have held the dubious distinction of being in the heart of the Rust Belt.
But things are turning around, according to Team NEO's fourth-quarter review of economic indicators in the 18-county region
"Manufacturing output in Northeast Ohio has lagged the U.S. for more than 20 years," said Tom Waltermire, CEO of Team NEO. "However, we are producing as much today as we did in 1990."
The region will benefit from healthy gains in several sectors in its sweet spot, according to Team NEO.
For example, Team NEO projects that the region's plastics and rubber sector will grow by 104% over the next decade, compared with 54% growth nationwide. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is headquartered in Akron.
Meanwhile, the region's chemicals sector will grow by 67%, compared with 45% projected growth nationwide.
The projections are welcome news to the region, where manufacturing has been the backbone of the economy for decades.
Growth in the region's manufacturing output peaked in the late 1990s, and has lagged national manufacturing growth by as much as 80% over the past two decades.
In fourth-quarter 2012, Northeast Ohio manufacturers added 7,000 jobs, a 3.1% increase in their employment ranks.
With its manufacturing sector clawing back, Northeast Ohio's unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6%, according to Team NEO.
The organization bases its projections on data from Moody's Economy.com, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.