“Grow it here, make it here.”

That’s the driving message behind a new initiative to create jobs by linking two of Ohio’s most important industries: agriculture and manufacturing.

Ohio farmers put food on tables, grow feed for livestock, and develop new sources of energy for our cars and homes. And increasingly, Ohio farmers grow feedstocks that are being turned into plastics, lubricants, and chemicals.

Meanwhile, Ohio manufacturers are not only producing iron, steel, and auto parts, but are finding new business opportunities in emerging markets – like clean energy.

Agriculture and manufacturing are two of Ohio’s greatest industries – creating good-paying, middle class employment opportunities and the resources needed to build a stronger, more vibrant economy. Bio-based manufacturing – the marriage of manufacturing and agriculture – can produce America’s next great economic success story right here in Ohio.

Nutek Green, a bio-based manufacturer in Northeast Ohio is writing an early chapter. Nutek has launched 14 retail and 44 industrial products using corn and soy-based products manufactured in the Buckeye State.

This homegrown company uses aluminum cans made in Youngstown, cleaning wipes from Cleveland, and boxes created in Wooster. Product blending and filling happens in Macedonia, design takes place in Akron, and all logistics for Nutek are handled in Glenwillow, Ohio.

But one of the company’s most critical components is the soybeans grown on Ohio farms. Soybeans like those grown at Armstrong Farm in South Charleston, Ohio help make our state the nation’s 7th largest soybean producer. I recently spoke with a sixth-generation family farmer at Armstrong Farms who told me that “there’ s a huge void between development and commercialization” for Ohio farmers who are working with researchers to get bio-based products to the marketplace.

There are more than 130 bio-based manufacturers already operating in Ohio that make products ranging from natural pet foods, bio-based paint, to soy ink, and toner. 

To find a bio-based manufacturer near where you live, visit my website at www.brown.senate.gov to view a county-by-county map.

In September at OSU, I held a roundtable with Ohio’s bio-based leaders to discuss the tremendous need – and potential – for an Ohio-led bio-based industry in the United States.

The “Grow it Here, Make it Here” initiative would facilitate more partnerships between agriculture and manufacturing to create jobs and promote economic development across Ohio. Our initiative would help our farmers and manufacturers do even more to meet our economic, environmental, and energy needs through bio-based manufacturing.

This bio-based manufacturing legislation would strengthen an existing program that certifies and labels products so consumers can better choose ones that are bio-based. It would also strengthen the bio-based market and help families make more-informed consumer choices.

Second, it helps bio-based manufacturers access loan assistance that could help expand operations and hire new workers.

Third, the Act would help bridge the gap between development and commercialization that is often the most difficult challenge for any emerging industry.

By streamlining existing U.S. Department of Agriculture resources, the Act would help the commercialization of bio-based products and technologies that are developed right here in America.

The bill is supported by a range of groups – from public health advocates and physicians to economic development leaders and businesses – like PolymerOhio and Battelle.

In many ways, this initiative is about using Ohio-grown crops to make Ohio-made products

Together, we can “grow it here, and make it here,” – creating new jobs while also strengthening our environment, supporting local economies, and ending America’s reliance on foreign energy sources.