YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – As 2020 progressed, Jeff Magada noticed a growing need in the Mahoning Valley. The area’s unemployment rate was climbing, the executive director of Flying High Inc. saw, but there was still the promise of new jobs on the horizon.
In response, Flying High started the Job Placement Welcome Center, a multipurpose office for job seekers. The welcome center celebrated its ribbon cutting on Tuesday with a crowd of supporters and elected officials inside Chase Tower in downtown Youngstown.
The Job Placement Welcome Center opened in November and is a part of Flying High’s Professional Development Center. The center helps eliminate barriers for employment and connects employers with potential hires.
“We’re going to put you through a process to get you specifically qualified for the employers that are hiring,” Magada said. “We’re going to put you in a pool of qualified workers and present you to the employer.”
The center helps clients obtain a valid driver’s license, offers drug and alcohol rehabilitation and provides reliable transportation. The center also provides counseling, workshops and training for trade skills and professional skills required by employers while assisting with paying fees and court fines.
“He does the work that employers don’t have to do to prepare people to get a job,” Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler said. “Especially after the pandemic, there are a lot of people who would be in those categories.”
Magada stressed that while services are available to anyone, the goal is to help rehabilitate those with a history of substance abuse and a criminal record.
“It is specifically set up for the most vulnerable populations that fear that they may not have hope. There’s hope here,” Magada said. “We can get you in a position where you are marketable. You just have to walk it out and work it out.”
Magada wants to create “pools of qualified workers” that complete the Professional Development Center’s “Prepare and Quality” process, which provides job-ready candidates. He wants to have the pool of workers ready to fill a job opening before an employer posts the position.
Magada said the development center and the Job Placement Welcome Center focus on the medical and manufacturing industries because those sectors have the most jobs available locally.
“We’re working with an array of manufacturing employers who are hiring welders and machinists. And we’re also working with health care employers that are hiring STNAs and entry-level positions,” Magada said.
According to Magada, 451 people have received employment assistance from the Professional Development Center. Of that group, over 300 have been recruited for the TJX Home Good distribution center in Lordstown.
He said other companies such as Macy’s Logistics, Mercy Health and Ultium Cells are also potential landing spots for the approximately 150 candidates that are currently enrolled.
“There’s a need for people to find employees,” Ditzler said. “Hopefully this creates a center point or a partnership that Jeff can control and help so many others to be employed.”
Magada said the most common concern with employers is reliability and the ability to pass a drug test. The PDC formed partnerships with groups like the Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, the Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership and other community organizations to tackle those issues.
There isn’t a timetable for when the candidates have to land a job. Magada said it could take longer for some to break through their barriers than others. He said that someone who gets a job might have to re-enter the training program, but Flying High staff will consider it a learning experience and continue to work with the candidate.
“We don’t turn anybody away,” Magada said. “We’re going to keep working with you as long as you keep working.”
The Job Placement Welcome Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those interested in finding a career can enroll at the welcome center located inside the Chase building or online at FlyingHighInc.com.
Pictured: Officials from Flying High Inc., the city of Youngstown, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber and Eastgate Regional Council of Governments celebrated the ribbon cutting of Flying High’s new Job Placement Welcome Center.