Manufacturing training center inches closer to fruition
By Denise Dick
A new manufacturing training center to provide future workers with the training needed to fill available jobs could open in the city in three years.
The project is a joint effort of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, Youngstown; the Mahoning County Educational Service Center; Eastern Gateway Community College and Youngstown State University, with Austintown and Struthers schools joining in.
The initiative got a boost this week when the state Controlling Board approved a $50,000 grant to fund a feasibility study for the center.
Jessica Borza, MVMC’s executive director, said organizers hope the study, being conducted by an architectural firm, is completed in about three months.
The $50,000 grant is coming from the Local Government Innovation Fund.
“The whole premise of the LGIF is to look to form partnerships to improve efficiency,” Borza said. “Our vision is to do exactly that.”
The involved entities recognize the need to provide training for the manufacturing industry, but the equipment is expensive both to buy and to keep current.
Rather than attempting to do it independently, those educational institutions are joining forces to create the center.
The proposed center will incorporate science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, welding, manual/CNS machining, industrial maintenance/mechatronics and aspects of manufacturing engineering programming.
Part of the study will determine the dollar amount required as well as the location for the Youngstown Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Training Center.
The facility will be in the city, Borza said.
“We’d like it to be within walking distance of YSU and Eastern Gateway,” she said.
How quickly the facility would be up and running depends on where it will be located.
“It will depend on whether we move in to an existing building or build one from scratch,” Borza said.
Three years is the working assumption, she said.
After the cost is estimated, grant money as well as funding from other sources will be sought.
The facility primarily will offer post-secondary training. School districts and career and technical centers, however, may use it as a way to expose students to manufacturing and manufacturing trades, the executive director said.
Such a facility is needed in the Mahoning Valley because there’s a lack of people with the needed skills to fill available jobs. Compounding the problem, officials have said, is the number of people with those skills who are at or near retirement age.