Oh-Penn Initiative Lands $950K Grant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A joint initiative between the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition and the West Central Job Partnership in Sharon, Pa., has secured nearly $1 million in federal grant money to support workforce development in manufacturing across the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.

Julie Michael Smith, project manager for MVMC, made the announcement Sept. 21 at the organization’s quarterly meeting at the Mahoning County Career & Technical Center.

The effort, known as the Oh-Penn Regional Collaboration, received $954,708 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Work Opportunities Rural Communities grant program, Smith said.

“They’ve been successful in winning five grants,” Smith said of the Oh-Penn partnership.  “That’s been transformational to the workforce development effort.”

The money would be used for three purposes, Smith said.

“One is to promote the availability of good jobs in all the counties,” she said, which include Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties across the border in Pennsylvania.

A second is to further equity and inclusion programs in manufacturing, Smith said.

Third, the funding would help organizations in Lawrence and Mercer counties form an industry sector partnership that mirrors the structure and function of MVMC.

For more than two months, MVMC has been working with builders, manufacturers and workforce development specialists in western Pennsylvania to help lay the groundwork for this coalition and allow it to grow.

The grant is the same source that funded MVMC’s WorkAdvance program. Last year that program helped train 90 individuals who had no manufacturing experience.

This summer, the initiative specifically focused on encouraging women to enter the manufacturing sector, said Alex Hertzer, senior project manager.

MVMC also conducted manufacturing “boot camps” at Trivium in Youngstown and Ultium Cells LLC in Lordstown, Hertzer said.

“Six individuals went through that boot camp,” he said. “What’s really exciting is that all six not only completed the boot camp, but by graduation they had received offers from the manufacturers to start their new career.”

Their jobs began Sept. 25.

A third program that kicked off this year includes students from Choffin Career & Technical Center and Trumbull County Career & Technical Center who have not declared a career path after graduation.

“It was great to work with the students throughout the year,” Hertzer said.

The plan is to partner with Choffin and TCTC again and possibly expand to other schools in the region.

Pictured at top: Julie Michael Smith, project manager for MVMC.