Group seeks county’s financial support for Workforce Development Program


WILMINGTON — At Wednesday’s Clinton County Commissioners’ meeting, community members made a presentation and said they are seeking the commissioners’ financial support for a county-wide Workforce Development Program that includes a full-time workforce development director.

At 9:30 a.m., Ruth Brindle, workforce data specialist for Clinton County Port Authority, along with Beth Justice, superintendent for the Southern Ohio Educational Service Center, Tammy Keller, job developer for OhioMeans Jobs in Clinton County, Dessie Rogers, executive director for Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, and T. Alex Beres, executive director of the Clinton County Port Authority, were present to discuss the Workforce Development Program proposal.

The proposal was presented as the Collaborative Steering Committee’s recommendation, suggesting that the Clinton County Workforce Development Program be hosted by the Southern Ohio ESC, with the director as an ESC employee.

The proposal emphasized leveraging existing resources and aligning with the Ohio Department of Education’s focus on career pathways. The Educational Service Center model was deemed most suitable for Clinton County’s needs, with Business Advisory Councils (BACs) being supported by Ohio’s ESCs. The Southern Ohio ESC currently hosts three separate BACs, including the Clinton County Business Advisory Council. They mentioned that Ohio Educational Service Center Association (OESCA) is advocating for House Bill 71, which establishes the Community Connectors Workforce Program.

Brindle expressed, “This is a program, not a person. For the program, we are seeking funding for the first year of just over $118,000. This includes a salary for a workforce development director, a salary commensurate with the experience, skill set, and expertise needed to successfully take the CCWC into the next phase of growth, a salary range which is comparable with other positions we researched in the development of this proposal.”

Rogers emphasized, “If we don’t do this — if we, the residents, community leaders, educators, and employers of Clinton County don’t take on this work — no one will. While moral support is appreciated and valuable, it is financial support that will actually make this program possible. That is why we are seeking a commitment from you, the Clinton County Commissioners, for $30,000 for year one, with a promise that we will be back next year to share with you what your financial support made possible.”

The proposal sought financial commitments totaling $118,000 to establish the program and hire the workforce development director. Contributions have already been secured from all four local school districts, Clinton Memorial Hospital, Wilmington College and OhioMeansJobs Clinton County.

Additionally, the steering committee presented the proposal to Wilmington City Council earlier in the month, and they are waiting for a response to that request for funds. The commissioners expressed interest in discussing the proposal further and commended the committee’s efforts.

Commissioner Kerry R. Steed expressed gratitude for the committee’s work and indicated a future discussion about the proposal.

If approved, the workforce development director, a pivotal role within the proposed program, would work closely with the Clinton County Workforce Collaborative (CCWC) Working Groups, the Clinton County Business Advisory Council (BAC), and the Southern Ohio ESC to drive multiple initiatives, including:

Developing the Talent Pipeline: Collaborating with employers and educators to ensure relevant skill programs are available to students, guiding students in understanding their aptitudes and translating them into career paths. This involves career exploration experiences, work-based learning opportunities, and standardized industry connections.

Engaging with the Current Workforce: Connecting employers with service providers to address training and upskilling needs of existing employees, coordinating job fairs, and promoting publicly-available training opportunities.

Engaging with Local Employers: Maintaining awareness of regional workforce needs, linking employers to relevant services, supporting recruitment and retention activities, and increasing community awareness of local career opportunities.

Coordinating CCWC Efforts: Ensuring broad participation, operational support, and regular meetings among CCWC members to foster collaboration and progress.

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