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ADM Chooses Northern Kentucky for Tech Talent

Jan. 18, 2016
“Twenty years ago the most important factor in site location was the infrastructure,” says Marty Schoenthaler, ADM’s chief information officer.. “Now it’s primary about people and their skills.” 

Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) (IW 1000/48) needed to increase  investment in technology as it was key to supporting the company’s growth strategies.

“The decision on where to locate our new technology center rested heavily on where we could find the talent,” explains Marty Schoenthaler, ADM’s chief information officer.  Northern Kentucky was on ADM’s radar as it ranked third in a location search commissioned by the company.

Any evaluation of workforce talent must take into consideration both current skills levels and a future talent pipeline.  With companies such as P&G, Toyota and GE located in the region, the skill level of the area was high. “When you have an established pool of large multinational companies, experienced technical talent is attracted to the area,” says Schoenthaler.

There was also a lot of home-grown talent with more than 49 universities, colleges and technical schools located in the Greater Cincinnati metro area. The total enrollment for these  academic institutions is nearly 300,000 with more than 51,000 graduates seeking advanced degrees.

All of this available talent is essential as ADM, which employed 50 when the center was opened last year, plans to employ 200 in the next three to four years.  To attract the workforce to their company ADM has has begun collaborating with Northern Kentucky University.  The University’s College of Informatics is one of only a few schools of its kind in the country. It offers nine bachelor's degrees, five master's degrees, and a variety of certificates in the field of informatics.

Collaboration  between education and industry is taking place across the region.  “We’re working with our primary industry companies to enhance a prepared workforce for our high growth industries through the Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Coalition, Northern Kentucky Chapter of the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME) apprentice program, Gateway Community & Technical College and Northern Kentucky University,” explained Dan Tobergte, CEO of NKY Tri-ED. “The first class of NKY FAME will graduate in 2017, after completing the 18 month program." 

The region is working hard to attract students to advanced manufacturing which continues to grow. “With 27 companies announcing new locations and expansions in Northern Kentucky - the highest number over the previous three years - 2015 was an outstanding year for the region,” said Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore, NKY Tri-ED Board Chair. “The manufacturing, aviation and office sectors led investments and new jobs in the region, with capital investments announced in 2015 double those in 2014." And more jobs are expected in the coming years.  In Northern Kentucky, it is projected that there will be over 6,000 open manufacturing positions by the year 2022.

To attract Millennials to advanced manufacturing the region has created a marketing program to let these younger workers know that the sector offers rewarding careers. “What our team learned is that these young men and women ... see great opportunities for themselves to have rewarding careers,” said Mike Vogt, vice president of human resources for Mazak Corp., which makes advanced turning and milling machines at its Florence, Ky. headquarters.

“They said they enjoy the high-tech challenges and the fact they continually get to learn something new," explained Vogt when announcing the marketing effort. "And one of the highest motivating factors for them was the fact they get to ‘make something’ on their job."

Other Factors in Location Decision

In addition to talent, monetary incentives offered to ADM were part of the reason the company chose this location. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority has approved tax incentives of up to $5 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. KEDFA also approved ADM for tax benefits of up to $200,000 through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act.

There was also the matter of excess capacity that existed at the campus of ADM’s WILD Flavors in Erlanger, Kentucky.  ADM acquire WILD Flavors in 2014, as way to bring more specialty ingredient products into the company.

In fact food manufacturing has a strong presence in the area with Schwan’s, Newly Weds Foods, Perfetti van Melle, Keebler, Lyons Magnus and Galerie. And Cincinnati is the headquarters of Kroger’s Food. “We are building a strong food manufacturing supply chain in the area,” says Tobergte.   The sector here is supported by the College of Allied Health Sciences at The University of Cincinnati which offers a number of undergraduate as well as graduate programs in the food sciences.

Again, it’s the available talent, for a variety of advanced manufacturing industries that will enable the region to grow. “Twenty years ago the most important factor in site location was the infrastructure,” says Schoenthaler. “Now it’s primary about people and their skills.” 

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