VOICES: Ohio’s economic recovery depends on a COVID-free workforce

This guest opinion piece by J.P. Nauseef, president and CEO of JobsOhio, appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Saturday, Feb. 6. Guest columns are submitted or requested fact-based opinion pieces typically of 300 to 450 words.

In the years after World War II, the United States, initially motivated to build an industrial machine capable of winning the war, went from a war footing nation to the greatest economy in the world.

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Ohio has the same chance to turn the COVID-19 crisis into strength. We have learned what we can do to protect our grandparents, friends and co-workers from COVID-19 because we’ve been hearing about safe practices for months.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

As we approach the time when vaccines are widely available, we’ll soon have another arrow in our quiver. Each of us should learn everything we can about vaccines — it’s a critical target worth aiming for.

Ohio has an exceptional opportunity to grow back stronger. We have continued to invest in recruitment, retainment and development of Ohio’s economy. Recently announced innovation districts in Cincinnati and Cleveland now race to compete for talent and capital on a global scale, while the state’s broadband efforts will soon empower those who have often been left in the dark.

Ohio’s businesses and employees have proven resilient as Ohioans have rolled up their sleeves to find a way to make it work.

Alongside these activities is the good news showing unemployment easing, even as the pandemic continues. As a result, Ohio is well on the way to recovery as calculated by the Moody’s Analytics and CNN “Back-to-Normal” Index.

Ohio also ranks among the top 10 states in a number of measurements, including business climate, GDP growth and direct foreign investment. Interest in living and working in Ohio is higher than it has ever been. The brand is bigger, better and people are taking notice.

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But, as Ohio’s recovery gains steam and jobs are created, we need a healthy and capable workforce to continue the momentum.

As a member of the Ohio Business Roundtable, JobsOhio in December joined with our state’s leading organizations, including the Dayton Development Coalition, as part of the “Coalition to Stop the Spread.” Since then, the Coalition has grown to more than 150 organizations that are encouraging individuals to serve as examples to friends, families and co-workers in mask-wearing, safe distancing and hand-washing.

Now, we have another weapon in our arsenal: the vaccine. Safe practices will stop the spread; but only community immunity will allow us to grab the brass ring that hangs before us.

Much misinformation about vaccines persists, and it can be difficult to know fact from fiction. That’s why the Coalition to Stop the Spread has populated its website with clear and accurate resources on both safe pandemic practices and information about vaccines.

While I’m no expert on vaccines, when it is available, I plan to take it and all of us have the ability to make the best decision for ourselves and our loved ones.

Becoming informed first, and getting immunized second, will be critical to hitting our stride running.

J.P. Nauseef is President and CEO of JobsOhio

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