Putting on socks and running shoes; my mind goes back to December when I was still in the wheelchair. I needed a special tool to put on my socks back then. I wore slip on shoes if I went out. They were easier for my wife, Lynnda to help me to get on and off. Getting dressed in the morning was a major operation.
I am thankful for being able to dress myself. To make two cups of coffee and carry them into the living room to have with Lynnda was impossible when I was in the wheelchair. I am grateful to my doctor and all of the physical therapists who worked with me. I had an appointment this week with the surgeon who fixed my legs after my soccer injury in October. He officially released me saying, "You are free to do anything." At my last physical therapy session, I thanked everyone personally. They gave me a list of exercises so I can continue to do to build strength and maintain flexibility. All of this is a reminder of how important our health is.
We have seen from the COVID-19 pandemic the importance of our health and how quickly it can change. Our children and grandchildren live out of state. We haven’t been able to hug them since before the pandemic. We missed being around our friends for these last 3 months. We missed two vacations with our kids and grandkids because of COVID-19. Something simple like driving to a store or going to physical therapy became an opportunity to get out of the house. I realized how many things I took for granted. My values have changed. Time is important. Life is important. Time with those we love is important. The human touch is important. I can’t imagine being in lockdown alone for 3 months without face to face contact or touch of another human being. I missed my church family and the opportunity to worship in person.
We have seen job losses in our Region for decades. We lost manufacturing jobs, coal jobs, oil and gas jobs. The Covid-19 losses are different. People from many different industries lost jobs quickly because businesses had to close. It was like a bad snow storm when we couldn’t get out. The difference was this storm has lasted 3 months.
Things are starting to get back to normal. We still have a window of opportunity to consider all we have learned in these past 3 months. My wife and I worked 6 jigsaw puzzles together since the pandemic started. I rarely made time to work a puzzle with her previously. We have been eating healthier with almost no fast food. We are getting more sleep. I am back to running and doing it daily. Our challenge is to maintain positive habits.
Another lesson we learned from the adversity of COVID-19 is how many critical products are made outside the USA. We know about health care protective equipment and prescription drugs being made overseas in places like China. We are just beginning to learn about other products. I am now looking at labels before I buy things. Most of the masks I see being sold are still made in China. My light bulbs are made by large American company. Most were made in China and some in Mexico. None were made in the USA. I found no-name brand bulbs cheaper than the name brand. These ARE made in the USA. Guess what I will be buying?
While some American Companies are having their products made outside the USA, Shale Crescent USA is working with foreign companies who want to invest here. They will make products here in the Shale Crescent, hire local workers and sell their products within a day’s drive of here. We are welcoming them to the USA. Maybe American companies can learn from them.
Most toothbrushes sold in stores are made in China. The bristles in these brushes are filaments made from petrochemicals. We know from our work, the filaments for toothbrushes are made here in the Shale Crescent USA. They are purchased by American companies and sent to places like China who make the brushes. The finished toothbrushes are then sent back to the USA.
If a company chose to manufacture toothbrushes in Parkersburg or Marietta for example, they might hire 100 people (to make the math easy). Because of advanced manufacturing their labor cost will be competitive with the rest of the world. They will get their raw materials and abundant economical energy locally. They will sell their product within a day’s drive of the plant. Based on our numbers, the same toothbrush made in China can be manufactured cheaper here. The workers hired from Ohio and West Virginia would probably earn at least $60,000 a year. That would be $6,000,000 into the local economy.
Workers pay state and local taxes, buy gasoline, coffee and snacks at local convenience stores. They will have money to eat at local restaurants. They will buy consumer products, new cars and homes providing additional local jobs and more tax revenues. If the 100 workers were unemployed they would be taking money from the state instead of paying taxes. This is just one simple example. What other products should we make here that will provide manufacturing and other jobs? We can all help if we look to see where the products we buy are made and purchase accordingly.
COVID-19 has been devastating. We know what is important to us. We can take advantage of the lessons learned to turn a bad situation into something positive. Thoughts to ponder.
Greg Kozera, email@example.com is the Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering who has over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert and the author of four books and numerous published articles.