YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition closes 2023 with many of its programs witnessing significant gains in impact across the region.
The organization highlighted these accomplishments Dec. 8 at its annual meeting, held at DoubleBogey’s in Boardman.
“It was a great year with lots of activity on all fronts,” said Jessica Borza, MVMC executive director.
Among the initiatives that gained traction was the increase in youth outreach, Borza said. Last year, the organization connected with 7,413 young people through school programs, job fairs and other venues.
“We nearly tripled the number of young people that we reached year-over-year,” Borza said. Hands-on activities increased by four times compared with 2022, while plant tours for students doubled in 2023, she added.
Part of the curriculum this year was a seven-part career exploration program for middle school students that centered on careers in manufacturing. The program was used in school districts in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
Equally important was the coalition’s impact on new job placements through the WorkAdvance program, Borza said.
“These are individuals who are not working, or in low income and low growth jobs, and we’re providing them with short-term training and getting them connected with manufacturers,” Borza said. “We have a growing number of manufacturers who see this as a great source of untapped talent.”
Alex Hertzer, MVMC senior project manager, reported job placements through the program soared 56% compared with last year. That program helps potential employees who do not have traditional experience in manufacturing attain the skills needed to enter the industrial workforce.
Hertzer said the program also focused on underrepresented communities, such as a cohort in July that encouraged women to join the manufacturing workforce.
“We’ve started our first Warren boot camp,” he said. Earlier this year, MVMC announced it would expand the WorkAdvance program to Trumbull County, partnering with the Trumbull Community Action Program, Oak Hill Collaborative, Warren Forward, Aspire Trumbull County and Eastern Gateway Community College.
MVMC also secured substantial funding through grant programs in 2023 that helped fund apprenticeship and outreach programs.
This year, the coalition landed $1.9 million in grant funding, Borza said. “That takes us to almost $27 million since our inception in 2011,” she said, when adding membership dues.
“For every dollar you’ve invested from your membership dues, we’ve attracted another $41 into the community to support this mission and this work,” Borza said.
MVMC will continue to reexamine its education and training programs to ensure that they align with the needs of manufacturers, such as those in the electric vehicle space.
“We continue to see a strong outlook for manufacturing in 2024,” Borza said. “Workforce will continue to be in demand, which makes our mission really important.”
MVMC attracted 21 new members in 2023. To date, the coalition boasts 72 manufacturers as members and 54 associate members that engage in education, workforce development and economic development.