Flying High Opens to Help Warren Job Seekers

WARREN, Ohio — There was reason to celebrate Oct. 12 as Flying High Inc. cut the ribbon to its Professional Development Center at 237 Main Ave. SW. 

Through a partnership with the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, the city of Warren Community and Economic Development, Workforce Development Board of Trumbull County, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments and other educational training partners, the center will work with individuals to become qualified for employment.

The Warren location joins the Job Placement Welcome Center in Youngstown, which saw its own ribbon cutting in April after opening in November 2020.

Offering assistance

Since launching Flying High Inc. in 1994, Jeff Magada, founder and executive director, said the nonprofit has assisted “well over 25,000 people.”

Jeff Magada

Initially working with youth, Flying High has evolved to work with adults and focuses on individuals with a history of substance abuse and a criminal record. 

Within the last year, the conversation to open the Professional Development Center started, and came together swiftly, Magada said. The decision to open a location in Warren was based on need.

“We’re in a season right now where there’s such great economic opportunity, and so many jobs are available,” Magada said, adding that there are people in economic deprivation. “We have a chance … to really help people that need those jobs the most overcome any employment barriers.”

With the TJX HomeGoods distribution center, Ultium Cells LLC and Lordstown Motors, all in Lordstown, Magada said jobs will need to be filled.

“This is the place, and now is the time to get people” prepared for employment opportunities, he said.

Five primary services will be available at the new Warren location, Magada said:

  • Walk-in access, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Guide people to obtain a driver’s license, gain employment history and other soft skills to obtain employment.
  • Provide job-seekers help to identify employment goals with case managers.
  • Leverage work resources to ensure job seekers have assistance they need to succeed.
  • Build a relationship between job seekers and employers and job coaches.

Guy Coviello, president and CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said the facility is needed.

“In 2020, the Mahoning Valley saw more economic investment than any other region in Ohio,” he said.

The Valley is projected to see the largest increase of job creations in northeast Ohio, between April and Nov. 1, Coviello said. Collaborations have been formed to reach into “previously underserved” populations and communities, he said.

Reaching out

Local employers have been reaching out to Flying High, ranging from health care to manufacturing to the service industry.

About a year ago, the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board reached out to Flying High after receiving a grant to bring a new agency into the community, said its director of recovery and youth programs, Lauren Thorp.

“We’ve always been impressed with the work that Flying High is doing, addressing gaps in our community and filling those gaps,” Thorp said.

Going forward, the board is encouraging Magada and his staff to bring more people in recovery to the professional development center. The facility will help break down barriers those in recovery experience, Thorp said, one of which is earning a GED diploma.

Karen Kennedy

Karen Kennedy, a manager at the Professional Development Center, works on community outreach. As staff has prepared the facility to open, she has hit the ground running, talking with community members and future clients about which services are needed.

She found that among certain soft skills, a GED diploma is at the top of most peoples’ lists.

“Our job here at the Professional Development Center is to prepare and to qualify any client who walks through that door … and place them in a pool of qualified workers by any means necessary,” Kennedy said.

The focus of population is for those in recovery, which is where the need is right now, Kennedy said.

A client has to be engaged or in a recovery program to be eligible for services, including housing, obtaining a driver’s license, reinstatement fees, bus passes and tuition assistance. 

Ultimately, goals will be identified by job seekers. And once a GED diploma is obtained, if needed, each person will have an individualized plan to help them succeed, Kennedy said.

“We’re going to give opportunities to people” who are trying to reach a goal, Magada said.

During the closing of the program, Pastor Vince Peterson of the Trumbull County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance took to the podium.

Many people want to improve but need that little bit of help. “You can’t fly high if nobody ever helps you get a lift off,” he said.

Information on services can be found by visiting FlyingHighInc.org

Pictured at top: Community members and elected officials gathered Tuesday for the ribbon cutting of Flying High Inc.’s new Professional Development Center in Warren.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.