WILMINGTON — The Clinton County Workforce Collaborative is trying to get a handle on what the specific barriers of transportation are for current and prospective employees as the Collaborative tackles challenges surrounding local workforce recruitment and retention.
The Workforce Collaborative initiative was launched in June 2021. Leading the joint effort are staffers from the Clinton County Port Authority, OhioMeansJobs | Clinton County, Southern Ohio Educational Service Center, and the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce.
Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers reported this week to county commissioners that Collaborative participants are having conversations with a targeted number of area employers around the issue of transportation.
“We’re looking at what could we do to enhance transportation availability,” said Evers. There are several different opportunities and topics they can explore with that, he said, adding “we want it to be employer- and employee-driven” rather than an economic development official saying ‘here is the way’.
When people talk about transportation as a barrier to employment, he said, is it because someone doesn’t have transportation period, or is it that they don’t have transportation that’s reliable, or is it that they’ve been carpooling and their partner has moved on?
So part of what the Workforce Collaborative is endeavoring to do is to see what are the specific issues behind various individuals’ lack of transportation, how profound those transportation barriers to working are, and what are the remedies that make sense, he said.
“I don’t know that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution or that there has to be a singular solution,” Evers said.
One of the groups under the Workforce Collaborative umbrella is called “Barriers to Work”. The barriers they’re considering include things like skills training, transportation, childcare, and housing.
Also during the monthly economic development update to commissioners, Evers said he and others are continuing to work with a developer on a housing development project, “finalizing documentation to advance that project.”
In response to a question from Commissioner Mike McCarty about whether there’s interest among developers in multi-family housing or condo townhouses rather than simply single-family homes, Evers said they are talking to somebody regarding a smaller-scale townhouse condo project.
They also are talking with two developers about possible residential multi-family projects, he said.
The Clinton County Port Authority executive director also gave an update on the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) team the Port has contracted with.
SBDC staff has just completed refinancing $685,000 in existing debt for a local client, and now is working on refinancing the client’s last $285,000 of debt.
Another local client of SBDC with whom it has worked for a while said there’s been a 100 per cent increase in their book of business for 2021, and now they’re tracking to have another 50 percent increase in 2022 year-over-year, related Evers.
Since SBDC began its work here in late 2020, they have met with at least 41 clients to receive direct counseling from SBDC personnel. Those clients have self-reported that they have created at least 91 new jobs since becoming clients.
The SBDC small-business clients are located across economic sectors and across the geography of the county, said Evers.
The SBDC Program is designed to deliver up-to-date counseling, training and technical assistance in all aspects of small business management, according to the SBDC webpage.
The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) administers the Small Business Development Centers program to provide management assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
The U.S Small Business Administration was founded in July 1953 during the Eisenhower Administration.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.