Leaders applaud Campbell workforce and cultural center
By Sean Barron
What resembles little more than a large cleared area of dirt promises to be converted to a large multipurpose facility that many community leaders say will better educate and prepare Mahoning Valley residents of all ages for an increasingly high-tech workforce.
“It will have a significant involvement in the education of our youth, with measurable benefits,” said Matthew Bowen, Campbell schools superintendent, referring to the Community Literacy Workforce and Cultural Center.
“All partners will focus on the well-being and education of the community at large, with a special focus on college and career readiness.”
Bowen was among those who took part in a groundbreaking ceremony Friday afternoon at the site, 2002 Community Circle, off state Route 616 next to Campbell Middle School.
The school district will own and operate the two-story CLWCC, which could open its doors in spring 2020. Partners that have leased space in the center are Mahoning County Educational Service Center, the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County, Southwoods Health, Eastern Gateway Community College and United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.
The facility will provide numerous means for young people to increase their skill sets and talents to ready them for success in the workplace, in part by offering higher-education opportunities, Bowen noted. Also available will be services to allow adults to retrain for and re-enter the workforce, he continued.
Among those opportunities will be STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs for youngsters, along with those to deepen their appreciation for reading and the arts, noted Aimee Fifarek, the public library’s executive director.
The library system will lease about 3,200 square feet, with flexible space for reading and studying, as well as for meetings and other gatherings, Fifarek explained.
“We need to provide an educated and skilled workforce, which will increase the likelihood students will stay in the area,” said Ron Iarussi, superintendent of the ESC and the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
Also to be offered is a STEM academy, which will give young people added tools to succeed in the business and manufacturing sectors, Iarussi continued.
“Any opportunity to prepare the youth for the workforce is a win-win,” added Nick Santucci of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, who noted that Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties have had 13,628 job postings, including more than 5,300 in Mahoning.
Making additional remarks to support the effort were state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th; Bob Hannon, United Way president; and Bill Valentino, Campbell school board president.