Axios Columbus

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Happy Tuesday, folks!

☔️ Today's weather: Rainy with a high of 74.

ğŸŽµ Sounds like: "Allentown" by Billy Joel.

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🍻 Situational awareness: A new "Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area" (DORA) space in downtown Columbus is expected to launch May 24 after being approved last night by City Council.

Today's newsletter is 828 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: 🛠️ Ohio embraces the trades

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Interest in training for Ohio's skilled trades is steadily growing, state labor data shows.

Why it matters: Industries like plumbing, welding and construction need more workers as boomers retire, and younger Ohioans are stepping up to fill the gaps.

The big picture: Enrollment in vocational programs and applications for trade jobs are ticking up as younger people look to start their careers without the sky-high cost of a four-year college degree.

  • Enrollment in vocational programs jumped 16% last year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse.

What they're saying: "We're finally seeing a more than subtle change within our society," says Robb Sommerfeld, co-founder of the National Center for Craftsmanship, which provides vocational training at high schools.

  • "More and more students and their parents see alternatives."

Zoom in: Apprentices in Ohio are up 69% since 2014 and up 2% over the past year, according to ApprenticeOhio, the arm of Ohio's Department of Jobs and Family Services that connects companies to workers.

  • As of yesterday, Ohio had 22,676 active apprentices, ranking the state third nationally and first in the Midwest.

By the numbers: Most of these (60%) are in construction and another 19% are in electrical work.

  • Well over 100 other occupations are represented, ranging from car repair and firefighting to elevator installation, video editing and soil/plant science.
  • The average hourly wage is $31.98 for those who graduated from apprenticeship programs so far in 2024.

Locally, Columbus City Schools offers technical programs at two of its facilities, while Columbus State Community College features various degree, certification and apprenticeship programs like carpentry, plumbing and welding.

  • Franklin County's Building Futures program connects low-income residents with skilled trade instruction.

Reality check: The labor shortage for technical jobs isn't over.

  • The construction industry alone faces a gap of half a million workers.
  • Many more plumbers, electricians and other skilled workers have retired over the past few years than have been trained to take their places.

The bottom line: Help is on the way, but worker shortages in the trades won't be solved overnight.

2. 🚓 City approves new police contract

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Stephen Zenner/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Columbus police officers are getting increased pay and job flexibility under a new collective bargaining agreement approved by the City Council last night.

State of play: The agreement, which covers around 1,850 uniformed employees, runs through Dec. 8, 2026.

  • Officers will receive a trio of 5% across-the-board pay increases expected to cost a total of about $80 million.
  • The first increase is retroactive to Dec. 9, 2023, with the next two coming in December 2024 and 2025.

Flashback: A previous version of the agreement stipulated officers could undergo polygraph tests if they are the "primary focus of an investigation, known witness to an incident" or if the officer requests one.

  • The new agreement states polygraph tests "shall not be administered to bargaining unit members."

Another change involves a tuition reimbursement program available after the completion of voluntary coursework for those with at least one year of service.

  • Previously, employees had to stay employed with the city for two years after completing their coursework or else repay the tuition.
  • The new agreement removes that requirement, freeing officers to leave the department immediately upon completion.

3. Nutshells: Your local news roundup

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Alissa Widman Neese/Axios

🏫 The Columbus teachers union president resigned from a task force he claims is intent on enacting a "mass closure of neighborhood schools." (Dispatch)

ğŸŽµ WWCD shut down for good, having briefly streamed music online after leaving the radio airwaves in January. (614 Magazine)

🏈 DraftKings Sports & Social, a new sports betting-themed restaurant, will open next week in the Short North. (Columbus Underground)

🏠 A unique house up for sale at 527 Armstrong St., sandwiched between I-670 and the Arena District, is called "a petunia in the midst of all that asphalt." (Columbus Business First 🔒)

4. 🖋 Ohio's stance on noncompete agreements

State restrictions on noncompete agreement laws
Reproduced from Economic Innovation Group; Note: Income restrictions refer to states where noncompetes are enforceable depending on an employee's income level. Other restrictions include noncompetes for certain types of workers, duration, etc.; Map: Axios Visuals

Many states already outlawed or restricted noncompete agreements before the Federal Trade Commission voted last week to ban them.

Zoom in: Ohio is not one of them, nor is neighboring Michigan, Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

Yes, but: State lawmakers are considering passing restrictions aimed at the health care sector, where these contracts are particularly popular.

  • State Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, a retired physician, proposes to limit such agreements at nonprofit hospitals to six months and a 15-mile surrounding area.

What he's saying: The agreements "are inherently anti-free enterprise, and impede an individual's ability to earn a living as he or she so chooses," he said in committee testimony.

The other side: The Ohio Hospital Association opposes the bill, calling noncompete provisions "necessary" to protect hospital staffing, particularly in rural areas.

  • The law would "significantly impede their ability to bring health care providers to their communities where they already struggle to recruit new providers."

Out today: Inside Axios

Cover: Harmony

My cofounder, CEO and friend Jim VandeHei is out today with a new book — "Just the Good Stuff: No-B.S. Secrets to Success" — about lessons learned starting and running Politico and then Axios.

Why it matters: Jim offers dozens of easy to understand — and implement — ideas for dealing with the tough stuff of life and work: picking careers, dealing with bad bosses or jerks, overcoming insecurities or health scares.

Cool twist: All the net proceeds go to students who need help with vocational school, or two- or four-year college.

ğŸŽ“ Terrific graduation gift: Jim details how he went from a 1.491 GPA in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to a success on the national stage.

  • The book also provides an inside look at the Axios culture animating this newsletter.

Order here ... Bulk discount here.

5. ⚽ Let the MLS All-Star Game hype begin

Crew fans after last year's MLS Cup Final at Lower.com Field. Photo: Zach Sanderson/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Major League Soccer is seeking help from local businesses in promoting the All-Star Game at Lower.com Field on July 24.

How it works: Fans will earn points toward discounts and MLS merch by playing soccer-themed augmented reality games at participating businesses.

What's next: Businesses can sign up by May 8, with the program rollout expected in early June.

This newsletter was edited by Lindsey Erdody and copy edited by Kate Sommers-Dawes and Anjelica Tan.

Our picks:

🧗‍♂️ Tyler is reading about the Ohio Tree Climbing Championship, which took place at a Cincinnati cemetery.

👶 Alissa is on maternity leave.