CCPA to Seek Funds for ‘Recovery to Work’ Training Program

LISBON, Ohio – For those with substance abuse and related brushes with the criminal justice system, finding a job is a major challenge. A new program undertaken by the Columbiana County Port Authority aims to address those issues and the shortage of skilled workers.

The port authority’s Robert Ritchey addressed the board Monday on the Recovery to Work study completed in October through a partnership with the Ohio Mid-Eastern Governments Association.

Ritchey said while meeting with businesses as part of the port authority’s retention and expansion program, he found the biggest struggle most businesses face is finding and keeping qualified workers.

Aggravating this struggle is the substance abuse problem prevalent in Columbiana County as well as the stigma attached to those who have experienced substance abuse issues, he said.

With the Recovery to Work program, the aim is to eliminate that stigma and convince businesses to hire those who are in recovery and are available to work.

“We want to go to employers and ask if they would be willing to overlook these minor [issues],” Ritchey said.

The goal is to seek grants to fund job training programs. Working through the court system to identify those in recovery programs is one potential source for participants, according to Ritchey.  

“We just wrapped up the study at the beginning of October, so now we can include that study in with grant applications for training [funds].” 

Ritchey affirmed the study did, in fact, show a need for such a program.

At last night’s meeting, the port authority also approved contracts related to economic development projects in Leetonia.

The board accepted a bid of $83,400 from Jim Santini Builders, Washingtonville, for exterior facade improvements to the port authority’s building at 600 Cherry Fork in Leetonia where plans call for developing a Global Investment Hub.

The port authority partnered with Youngstown State University’s Small Business Development Center and Export Assistance Network to create the Global Investment Hub. The hub would target businesses in the 3D printing, technology and petrochemical clusters to produce more value-added products, create well-paying jobs and export products to the global market.

The port authority has received $400,000 in state capital budget dollars as well as $250,000 in funding for the project at the 110,000-square-foot building, according to Executive Director Penny Traina. A special telephone conference meeting may be called in December to award a bid for interior painting of the building, she advised.

The board also authorized Traina to enter into negotiations and accept a contract with MS Consultants Inc. as criteria engineer for the speculative building project at the Leetonia World Trade Park. The board previously approved construction of a 60,000-square-foot metal spec building on the 15-acre lot, which has 30 contiguous acres for future expansion.

Traina also reported on a celebration of manufacturing workers held last month at the Salem Industrial Park where more than 400 manufacturing workers were fed lunch and received gifts.

“The event was hugely successful and gives us a way to congratulate and celebrate the manufacturing workers and the contribution they make to the county, state and region,” she said, noting there are about 167 manufacturing companies in Columbiana County.

She also noted the job fair held at Crestview Local School District this month involving the port authority, Salem SOD Center, Educational Service Center and Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition.
Thirty-six businesses and organizations, primarily manufacturing and health care, registered for the event, which was attended by more than 100 high school students.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.