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Ohio career initiative expanding into Valley

WARREN — An initiative that connects job-seeking Ohioans with skills training and career opportunities is launching in the Mahoning Valley, one of five metro areas around the state in which the program is expanding, it was announced Wednesday.

Ohio To Work is a program of the state’s private economic development corporation, JobsOhio, that provides resources to help people find work or long-term careers in in-demand industries — manufacturing, health care and information technology — with local employers.

The effort in Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties is being led by the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition (MVMC), which has partnered with other agencies: the Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, the Youngstown-affiliate of the National Center for Urban Solutions (NCUS), Flying High, United Returning Citizens and Ohio Means Jobs.

“We really believe that this is the right effort at the right time in the labor market so our hope is that this will allow more individuals to re-enter the workforce or transition into a long-term career that gives them better options of the future, while at the same time supporting industries that are really economic drivers in the region,” Jessica Borza, executive director, MVMC, said.

MVMC will manage the project and, because it works closely with the local manufacturing community, will perform business engagement. The chamber’s work will include other employer engagement and Flying High, Ohio Means Jobs, NCUS and URC will do career coaching. NCUS and URC also will help recruit program participants.

Borza said the local effort has identified preferred training programs that include the local career and technical centers and Eastern Gateway Community College.

“Every time we go out and meet with a company, engage with our board of directors, work on economic development projects, workforce is always at the top of the list when it comes to meeting a company’s needs and expectations, as well as what is the community doing collaboratively to solve the ongoing issues,” Sarah Boyarko, chief operating officer for the regional chamber, said. “I think Ohio To Work certainly is a start of that in concentrating on manufacturing, health care and IT sectors.”

An employer engagement event is scheduled for 7:30 to 9 a.m. Sept. 28 at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown. There employers can learn how the program works and how it can support their workforce needs.

Ohio To Work launched in September 2020 in Cleveland as a pilot initiative. In addition to the Valley, it’s now also growing in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo.

It provides personalized personalized career coaching, accelerates training options, career tools and connects local employers with the workforce. It has more than 70 employers that are committed to hiring job seekers. Nearly a dozen training providers also support the initiative by providing individuals with workforce-aligned training solutions in a wide-range of areas.

“By expanding this innovative, partnerships-based program, we’ll be able to give more Ohioans access to the tools and supports they need to find meaningful employment and support Ohio’s rapid and equitable economic resurgence,” said Gov. Mike DeWine.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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