LIMA — Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment, more than $3 million has been invested in creating a comprehensive strategy for workforce development and innovation in the greater Lima area. Now, with the grant set to expire in August, local grant administrators are looking to the Allen Economic Development Group to put this strategy into motion.
Allen County commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday to commission AEDG to implement the workforce development plan constructed through the OEA grant, with an emphasis on communicating to the outside world what this region has to offer.
“Now we need, as a community, to own this process and we need to implement and sustain the work that’s been accomplished through Phase 1 and Phase 2” of the grant, OEA grant project manager Cynthia Leis said. “What’s been accomplished is we’ve had a tremendous amount of community engagement. We’ve engaged key stakeholders over the last 24 months. We’ve accomplished some work around innovation and the work that’s being done with the [Ohio Energy and Advanced Manufacturing Center] with high strain metal forming commercialization.”
Another project going forward, Leis said, will involve the creation of a greater Lima region communication plan covering an eight-county region, giving a consistent, unified message to outside investors as to what this region has to offer in infrastructure and workforce.
“This is something we hope to push out nationally,” Leis said. “We are forecasting 22,000 jobs based upon moderate growth of our current businesses and industries in the eight-county region. That’s what we can expect by 2025.”
AEDG president Jeff Sprague expressed enthusiasm in taking on this project, focusing on economic development, workforce development, communications and community development and quality of life issues in the area.
“We didn’t want another plan just to place that plan on the shelf and let it die,” he said. “That’s why the hand off to the AEDG is so important, because we’ll take those initiatives and implement them in the next six months, 12 months, 18 months and beyond.”
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.