In today’s globalized world, scale matters. Building economic, political and financial strength through collaboration is just common sense. I am pleased to announce the private sector has come together to form Greater Lima Region, Inc. or GLR for short, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit corporation. GLR will serve as a regional economic development, workforce development and marketing organization.
The concept of banding together as the Greater Lima Region fills an important labor-shed gap between the surrounding recognized metro centers. GLR is made up of eight counties: Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Mercer, Paulding, Putnam and Van Wert. Through collaboration, Greater Lima Region, Inc. will be laser-focused on addressing the region’s future needs and positioning the Lima region for growth.
To share a little background, Greater Lima Region, Inc. was shaped as a result of a grant from the Department of Defense/Office of Economic Adjustment. The purpose of the grant was to bring community stakeholders together to evaluate and position our region for future economic success.
Key findings of the analysis revealed a forecasted workforce shortage across all skill sets of approximately 22,000 workers by 2024. It also found that our region suffers from a perception issue, with the “good news” getting lost. Additionally, the study showed coordination and alignment issues are constraining economic development and undermining our region’s communications, resulting in mixed messages and duplication of efforts.
Community stakeholders universally supported the concept of developing a nationally and internationally competitive region. Additionally, they reinforced the desire for our region to be recognized for its high quality and quantity of workforce, along with its local culture of innovation that drives business success. The stakeholders also recognized the critical importance of organizations and communities working across boundaries to grow our region through job growth and capital investment.
The establishment of Greater Lima Region, Inc. creates the strategic framework needed to align key community, economic and workforce development goals and provide for a unified marketing and branding strategy. GLR’s three main community priorities include:
• Grow employment by 22,000 jobs by 2024 and provide the qualified regional workforce to fill those jobs.
• Be recognized and viewed as an ideal location for new businesses to locate and existing businesses to expand.
• Be recognized nationally as one of the most livable communities in the Midwest.
The targeted beneficiaries of GLR are the many current and yet-to-be- attracted future employers of the region and their employees — the residents who make up our Greater Lima Region. GLR has endorsed a collaborative growth plan which sets forth the strategies to address our community priorities. They are as follows:
• Leadership and regional structure. Build a cohesive, functional region centered around the Lima region. Adapt the name “Greater Lima Region.” Bring surrounding counties and organizations into the approach.
• Workforce development. Develop a coordinated industry and public multifaceted workforce strategy. Build on the foundation of Link Lima and expand its scope. Target college students to return to or remain in the region for employment.
• Economic development. Advocate and support business retention, expansion and attraction. Secure capital investments. Promote job retention, expansion and attraction.
• Community development. Form a Greater Lima Region Revitalization and Redevelopment Foundation. Build an ecosystem approach to community development. Seek funding for major community development planning initiatives. Pursue retail development.
Specifically, the 2018 collaborative growth goals for the Greater Lima Region, Inc. include:
• Position the Greater Lima Region as “open for business” by streamlining the process to establish and/or expand business and remove barriers to growth.
• Grow the workforce by engaging youth early, introducing them to the diverse career opportunities available locally and supporting them as they pursue a career path.
• Develop and execute a strategic communications and marketing plan for our Greater Lima Region to attract state, national and global attention.
• Engage additional community stakeholders to support Greater Lima Region, Inc.
Funds are being cultivated from investments by local employers, outside investors interested in capitalizing on the revitalization efforts and public grants and programs available for economic development. In part, operations of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce and Allen Economic Development Group are funded by local investments in the GLR. These two organizations, in coordination with other regional organizations, have aligned their goals to drive key elements of the GLR growth plan.
I appreciate the commitment of key stakeholders who so willingly invest their time and resources to advance Greater Lima Region, Inc. Initial investors and GLR board members include: Dale Gisi, Mercy Health; Phil Buell, Superior Credit Union; Todd Sutton, Nutrien; Barry Clark, Perry proTech; Elia Lopez, Procter & Gamble; Dr. Jeff Jarvis, University of Northwestern Ohio; Doug Olsson, The Lima News; Dr. Daniel DiBiasio, Ohio Northern University; Jim Bronder, board chair, Allen Economic Development Group; and Lynn Carpenter, board chair, Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce.
As we move forward, our continued success will be built around engaging additional community stakeholders to support Greater Lima Region, Inc. For Lima Memorial, the decision to become actively involved was an easy one. As an anchor institution, we owe it to our community to not only care for the health of individuals but also the health of our region. We each have a responsibility to our region. Please join us as we shape the future of the Greater Lima Region.
Mike Swick is the president and CEO of Lima Memorial Health System and the board chair of Greater Lima Region, Inc. His opinion does not necessarily represent the views of The Lima News or its owner, AIM Media.