Stark County Manufacturing Workforce seeks funding through grants

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CANTON — Local workforce development efforts are seeking help in a quest for cash available in federal programs after receiving state financial assistance.

The funds will be used to cover costs related to preparing and training workers for manufacturing jobs.

The Stark County Manufacturing Workforce Development Partnership (SCMWFD) is asking local manufacturers for commitment letters detailing each company’s hiring needs for the next five years, as well as the types of jobs that will be available.

Following: Attention Stark County Makers: Opportunity Presents

The partnership works with the township’s regional Chamber of Commerce and will apply for two Good Jobs Challenge grants. Commitment letters supporting the grants must be submitted by January 26.

This information will help the partnership seek funding through the Good Jobs Challenge, which is part of the US bailout and is managed by the US Economic Development Administration.

State funding already granted

The SCMWFD has already received a $100,000 Spark Grant from the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, which is led by Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted. The partnership also received a $30,000 grant through the Ohio Manufacturers Association.

The US bailout included $500 million for the Good Jobs Challenge. The objective is to develop programs that bring together employers who have hiring needs with entities that train workers. Workers will acquire skills that will lead to well-paying jobs.

Barbara Bennett, vice president of the Township Chamber for Education and Workforce, said manufacturers are looking for workers with technical skills to operate robotic equipment or work with artificial intelligence.

Previous Workforce Partnership grants will be used as seed capital to launch activities that promote manufacturing jobs and train workers for entry-level positions in the manufacturing sector. James T. Batchelder, president of SCMWFD, said the funds will help manufacturers recruit and train employees for hundreds of manufacturing jobs available at local businesses.

Two options for financing the effort

The concern is that Stark County won’t have enough workers to fill the vacancies, Bennett said.

SCMWDP and the Township Chamber are working with the OMA on one Good Jobs Challenge grant, and with neighboring counties in northeast Ohio on the second grant. The program limits the Stark County community to receiving one of the grants.

“We’re not the only community with this problem,” Bennett said, noting that agencies across the country are competing for funds.

The grant with the OMA and other manufacturing groups around Ohio would — if successful — raise up to $600,000 a year for three years, Bennett said.

In the other grant option, Stark officials are working with agencies in Summit, Cuyahoga, and Lorain counties. This proposal could bring in $400,000 a year.

Either grant would be a game-changer for the SCMWDP, Bennett said.

As of Thursday, six area businesses had provided Bennett with letters of commitment supporting SCMWDP’s efforts to secure Good Jobs Challenger funds. These companies estimate that over the next five years they will need to hire 800 people. In some cases, companies will replace retirees or create new jobs due to growth.

The SCMWDP formed in March 2021, with the Township Chamber and six manufacturing companies in the region as initial members. The effort has expanded to more than 40 manufacturers, schools and other organizations focused on expanding and training Stark County’s workforce.

Good Jobs Challenge

The Stark County Manufacturing Workforce Development Partnership is seeking grants from the US Economic Development Administration. The US bailout allocated $500 million to the Good Jobs Challenge.

Local manufacturers are asked to provide a letter of commitment in support of the grant application. The letter asks for the hiring request for the next five years and the most important job.

For more details, contact:

Barbara Bennett

Vice President of Education and Workforce

Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce

330-458.2059

[email protected]

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