YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – $12 million is coming to the Valley that could impact workforce development in a big way.
All of that funding is coming from General Motors repaying tax credit incentives related to the closing of the Lordstown plant.
Ohio Lt. Gov. John Husted went to Youngstown State University on Tuesday to discuss the money and how he and local leaders hope it will benefit workers and businesses across the Valley.
Local leaders want businesses and educators to work together to spend the money.
“A lot of times they work in isolation. Education does this, business does this. They don’t work together,” Husted said.
Husted emphasized the importance of talent and investment in order to lead to a better future for the Valley.
“It works for everybody because businesses are going to come because the talent is here,” Husted said. “You can customize that talent for the unique things that that business might need, and the people of the community gain the skills that will make them more employable, that will help them earn more. That gives them more job security.”
Of that $12 million investment, $5 million will be going to YSU for workforce development, which they will use for a range of initiatives, the following of which are already underway:
- Excellence Training Center: Now under construction. It will provide high-tech space for machining, metrology, CT scanning, advanced mold making, additive manufacturing and automation/robotics.
- YSU IT Workforce Accelerator: In partnership with IBM. To better align the workforce with industry in-demand skills, providing greater access to jobs through things like apprenticeships.
- YSU Energy Storage and Innovation Training Center: To advance workforce development for the battery manufacturing industry.
- Virtual Career Fair: To showcase the Mahoning Valley region as a great place to live, work and do business. A one-stop destination to connect the community with in-demand career pathways, training and jobs.
- YSU Center for Workforce Education and Innovation: Oversees all of the university’s workforce initiatives, focusing on workforce innovation, workforce education, research and commercialization.
ExOne is just one of the businesses working with the university and sees these initiatives as part of a revolution across the Rust Belt.
“These technologies enable us to bring a lot of those lost manufacturing jobs back on shore. It’s been proven, it’s certainly the case with a number of our customers, you can’t do that without having the workforce,” said Bob Wood, director of global business development for ExOne.
The 3D printer company thinks the new initiatives will support businesses throughout Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. ExOne is a partner in YSU’s new Excellence Training Center, where students will be able to learn innovative new trades.
ExOne has partnered with YSU for about eight years on other projects and has been able to hire multiple alumni from the school.
“It’s a different world as we talk about becoming Voltage Valley. It’s a whole different type of electronics and manufacturing and robotics and all those different things,” said YSU President Jim Tressel.
America Makes is also working to support the new training center at YSU. The organization is hopeful the center will allow people throughout the Valley to re-skill and up-skill to be trained for new job opportunities.
“We’re looking and making sure that we’re taking all the hurdles and obstacles out for both the underutilized population and underserved populations because, again, talent may be spread evenly but opportunity is not,” said Josh Cramer, education and workforce development director for America Makes.
These initiatives won’t only benefit YSU students, though.
The Excellence Training Center is a partnership with the Eastern Gateway Community Center, Youngstown City Schools and the Career and Technical Centers in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
All of the officials and businesses are hopeful that this will allow for more equity when it comes to job opportunities.