Month: March, 2012

Lenner: Educated workforce drives economic development

ThisWeek Community NewspapersFriday March 23, 2012 5:52 PM

Two Johnstown village officials who attended an Economics-Education Summit in Columbus earlier in the month presented their findings to village council on March 20.

David Keck, president of Johnstown Village Council, and Jim Lenner, village manager, talked about how they learned how education can drive economic development in the area.

“The big thing I took from it was having a valuable workforce,” Lenner said. “Companies aren’t going to want to come into a community if there are no workers to staff their needs.”

To obtain a viable workforce, Lenner said, local schools have to provide the necessary training for those potential employers.

“A lot of times it’s companies saying ‘We’re coming. We need a program in association with a vocational school or secondary school to get our workers trained within six months,’” Lenner said.

“A lot of communities work with organizations such as C-TEC (Career and Technology Education Centers) or Ohio State University-Newark, or the vocational schools to build programs that funnel trained workers into that company,” he said.

Keck said there are 9,600 open jobs in Ohio right now, but residents across the state are not trained for the positions that are available.

He said the village is currently putting together a commercial packet for businesses looking to build in Johnstown.

“We want to make sure we include some things in there that represent some of the points that were brought up, like about logistics and about training and about the education opportunities near here,” Keck said.

“We have a good public schools system and on top of that we’re within easy driving range of dozens of schools that do all sorts of things,” he said.

Keck said it’s all about promotion — which is why he said the commercial packet is a great first step.

“If we promote the schools that are near us, then that means they will be more likely to provide the kinds of things that the community needs to draw these kinds of businesses in, and that just helps the residents and helps the village financially,” he said.

One problem, Lenner said, is with businesses that require drug testing. He said a lot of potential employees fail the test.

“The career tech schools are saying kids will progress through something until they need a drug test and they skip to another major if they don’t have to have a drug test,” Lenner said. “They said it’s a huge problem in education and economic development.”

Both Lenner and Keck agree that with Ohio being with in 600 miles of 61 percent of the manufacturing in the United States and Canada, Johnstown needs to be ready to provide opportunities to help the local community thrive during difficult economic times.

Chamber hires economic development director

by Seth Roy

Newark Advocate

NEWARK — Licking County’s diverse population and business climate were key factors in Dan Evers applying for the Chamber of Commerce’s new economic development director position.

“From a business development perspective, there are a myriad of aspects that are favorable,” Evers said. “The beauty of the diversity — the needs of one community are different from another’s.”

Monday, Chamber President Cheri Hottinger announced that Evers had been hired for the new role, which will play an integral part in the public-private partnership of the Grow Licking County Community Improvement Corporation.

She cited his previous experience working in economic development at the township, city and county level as making Evers uniquely qualified for the position.

“We’re just really excited to have Dan,” Hottinger said. “We’re not starting from square one. He is hungry for the job.”

Grow Licking County is a partnership between the county, Hebron, Heath, Pataskala, Johnstown, New Albany, the Chamber, the Port Authority and a variety of businesses.

Evers said the collaboration between the various governments and businesses is exciting and means the focus of economic development needs to be in celebrating the different areas of the county.

Licking County can attract both big and small companies.

“We’re not just hunting elephants,” Evers said, “because of the diversity of the community, because of the assets that are in place and how they orient.”

The governments involved have pledged or paid $10,000 each, and the CIC’s budget includes money from various private businesses.

Evers officially is hired by the Chamber of Commerce, and will fulfill the chamber’s role to provide economic development services with the CIC, Hottinger said.

Before being hired by the Chamber, Evers was a finalist for the village administrator position in Hebron. Mayor Clifford Mason was impressed with his preparedness for earlier interviews.

“He knew a lot about Hebron, but he had done his homework about Licking County, as well,” Mason said.

Evers’ hiring means Grow Licking County can start moving forward in other areas. The group met for the second time Monday, and approved finance and marketing plans.

Next, the group needs to finalize its operational agreement.

The next Grow Licking County meeting will be at 9 a.m. on April 16 at Mid-Ohio Development’s Newark office, 33 W. Main St.

Seth Roy can be reached at (740) 328-8547