Chamber gets $225K to align workforce groups

WARREN — The Youngstown / Warren Regional Chamber, in partnership with a three-county coalition, has received a $225,000 state grant to build out a system and supporting infrastructure to align the regional workforce ecosystem.

Doing so, according to the economic and workforce development organization, “is critical for maintaining a healthy economy in Ohio and the Appalachian region.”

Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana counties have several organizations dedicated to helping residents find education and careers, however, they often worked independently, creating competition for money, clients, employer engagement and students seeking service.

This funding through the Ohio Appalachian Community Grant Program will go toward aligning those organizations in a holistic approach and accelerate the efforts of the coalition.

“We are most grateful to our members and partners who instilled trust in us to facilitate this project for the region. We could not have done it without the investment of Youngstown State University, the continued support of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and the workforce agencies that will be involved throughout,” said Melissa Maiorano, the chamber’s director of workforce development.

Formed in March 2022 with seed dollars the state gave to YSU to partner with the chamber, the group has identified attracting, developing and retaining workforce as the largest challenge.

It has also developed goals “to ensure the Valley’s economy is successful in gaining and retaining the talent pipeline” that include strategic alignment, private-industry partnerships, accountability and integration of wrap-around services.

Another component is marketing on a large scale.

“That way, from an economic development standpoint, when we are working with companies that want to relocate here and want to expand here, we’re branding it as a one-stop shop for all of those services … so we want to provide a better way for all of our initiatives to work together,” Maiorano said. “That way for the job seeker, the system, if you will, is easier to navigate and for the employer, it’s more strategic as well.”

The coalition was the natural outgrowth of Ohio To Work, a JobsOhio initiative the chamber was part of that connected job-seekers in the region with skills training and career opportunities in health care, information technology and manufacturing industries.

Ohio To Work came to an end in December 2022, giving rise to the new coalition effort, but not before impacting thousands of people in the region.

According to data from Ohio To Work, there were 1,617 jobseekers enrolled in training programs and 1,758 job offers were placed. The goals, respectively, were 500 and 1,000.


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