By Karl Henkel
Manufacturing has been in the forefront of the Mahoning Valley economic surge.
But there’s a specific type of manufacturing that has contributed growth throughout the Northeast Ohio region: food manufacturing.
Food manufacturing grew at a 25-percent clip in the region from 2000 to 2011 despite two recessions, according to Team NEO, a Cleveland-based nonprofit group that tracks economic data for the 18-county “Cleveland Plus” region.
The counties are Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana, Ashtabula, Carroll, Stark, Summit, Portage, Geauga, Lake, Cuyahoga, Medina, Wayne, Lorain, Ashland, Erie, Huron and Richland.
“They are a lot smaller than the other categories of other manufacturing,” said Cleveland-based economist George Zeller. “But people have to eat.”
Food manufacturing, which deals with nondurable goods, is less volatile to economic swings, Zeller said.
Durable goods, such as cars and the auto industry, are much more susceptible to high levels of job layoffs or growth.
But here in the Valley, more than 100 jobs will be created with two food manufacturing projects.
PurFoods LLC — Mom’s Meals — and Summer Gardens Food Manufacturing, are expanding in the area. PurFoods is headed to North Jackson, and Summer Gardens will locate in Boardman.
Mom’s Meals, a fresh-food production company, is nearly set to debut 20,000-square-foot facility on Commissioner Drive in North Jackson in the former home of Heather Creek Foods.
The company said it will begin production next week and create 50 jobs.
“Ohio is one of our larger states,” Rick Anderson, president of Mom’s Meals, previously told The Vindicator.
Summer Garden Food, expanding its plant on McClurg Road, will create 58 jobs.
Team NEO also reported that unemployment throughout the region is the lowest in three years and the area’s GDP is expected to grow 2.1 percent in 2012.
Team NEO uses Moody’s Economy.com data, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Ohio’s Labor Marketing Information to aggregate regional statistics.