Lawrence, Mercer Join in New Workforce Coalition

SHARON, Pa. – A new workforce development coalition of manufacturers took shape in Mercer and Lawrence County, Pa., in 2023.

The Lawrence Mercer Manufacturers Coalition earned a portion of a nearly $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in September, which kickstarted its formation.

Founding manufacturer members include Berner International, Blair Strip Steel Company, Ellwood, G.W. Becker Crane, Hall Industries and Wheatland Steel Processing.

Pennsylvania’s West Central Job Partnership is also among the early partners.

“Our first priority is to bring manufacturers together because our shared workforce challenges are better solved by working together,” says Anna Barensfeld, Ellwood Group vice president of strategic initiatives. “…We will be working to identify ways to collaborate with local education and community organizations to improve the visibility of rewarding manufacturing careers here at home.”

Other early priorities include youth outreach, recruiting and retention, and career pathways development.

The LMMC has the benefit of receiving counsel from Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition leadership during its startup. 

“MVMC is the gold standard among Ohio’s 16 endorsed sector partnerships, and leveraging their experience and success as we form our own group across the border has been extremely advantageous,” says Dave Douglass, operations manager, Hall Industries.

The two organizations, while independent of each other, foresee many opportunities for collaboration with training initiatives, marketing, grant writing, networking, shared services and more.