LIMA — A workforce framework pitched to local business owners and community stakeholders six months ago now has “exciting results.”
“You all were here as it was born and it didn’t really have any legs or arms or connectors,” said Doug Arthur, director of the Allen Economic Development Group Workforce Vision, at a six month community update event on Thursday afternoon. “[We want to] tell you that it’s working. We are right in the middle of the early formative steps, but it’s working.”
The framework is LINK Lima/Allen County, launched in January at the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast and supported by grants from the Ohio governor’s office.
“It’s not a program, it’s an organization approach to giving support to programs,” Arthur said.
Arthur and others described the first few steps of LINK Lima, what has been done so far and where the framework is headed to about 55 business people, community stakeholders, educators and non-profit agencies.
The problem that spurred the creation of LINK Lima was that businesses need employees. Specifically, ones who are drug free, have child care and transportation and will come to work, among other things.
The solution, Arthur said, is Allen Economic Development Group’s relationship with Ohio Means Jobs Allen County, and Joe Patton, the director of the advanced manufacturing task force at OMJ.
More than 50 people have met with case managers at Ohio Means Jobs Allen County since the Advanced Manufacturing program kicked off on July 1, said Paula Siebeneck, workforce development supervisor at Ohio Means Jobs Allen County.
The program takes job seekers through the steps to prepare them for a local job in manufacturing and is part of LINK Lima. The goal is to get 200 people through the program in a year, double the number of people who went through basic manufacturing training last year.
With the program kicked off, the next step for LINK Lima is MakerFest 2015, a career fest and expo hosted at Veterans Memorial Civic Center on Nov. 20 and 21.
Arthur described what MakerFest 2015 will feature, and how businesses and individuals can get involved.
“It’s a true showcase event for the community,” he said. “Because in Lima/Allen County we make stuff …. It is a source of our primary energy and economy and it should be a source of pride. Making stuff is a banner we want to fly very very high.”
MakerFest 2015 will take the area around downtown Lima and “turning it into a Disneyland celebration of what makes us proud,” Arthur said.
It’s intended to attract manufacturing, engineering and skilled labor to area companies and will feature a job fair; career fair; interview help sessions; keynote speaker Keith Wandell, former president and CEO of Harley-Davidson; competitions for professionals and high school students; and more.
The goal of the event and of LINK Lima is to instill “significant hometown pride” in Lima and Allen County as a maker community; increase awareness that there are good paying jobs locally; start manufacturing clubs in local high schools; place students in internships in local plants; and more.
Reach Danae King at 567-242-0511 or on Twitter @DanaeKing.