Regional Partners to Be Recognized for ‘Commitment to Community Excellence’

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A regional coalition is receiving national recognition for its “Commitment to Community Excellence.”

Throughout 2020, several Mahoning Valley community and economic development organizations have participated in the Communities of Excellence 2026 National Learning Collaborative. The initiative is based on criteria developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.

During a virtual event Tuesday, the Mahoning Valley Leadership Team will receive the initiative’s Commitment of Community Excellence recognition.

This coalition now looks to take its next steps in the Baldrige program’s process in 2021, according to Jim Kinnick, executive director of the Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, a founding member of the regional leadership team.

“On behalf of the Mahoning Valley partnering organizations, we greatly appreciate this recognition from the Malcolm Baldrige Communities of Excellence 2026 Program,” Kinnick said in a statement. “Mahoning Valley community leaders involved in this effort have persevered through the challenges of 2020, and we are now prepared to move into the next phase of the Baldrige process, during which we will define specific strategic initiatives which will address equitable economic development, health and safety, and quality of life for Mahoning Valley residents.”

The Mahoning Valley Communities of Excellence Leadership Team includes representatives from the cities of Warren and Youngstown, The Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, Eastern Gateway Community College, Eastgate Regional Council of Governments, Mercy Health Foundation, The Raymond John Wean Foundation, Western Reserve Port Authority, The Youngstown Foundation, Youngstown State University and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.

Representatives from the entities received training and coaching to better align, prioritize and measure the impact of community and economic development initiatives, according to a release.

“We have the opportunity to, as a team, to learn this process and apply it to community challenges,” said Michael Hripko, economic recovery coordinator and Mahoning Valley Communities of Excellence representative for Eastgate.

The three-year learning collaborative focuses on assessment, collaboration, engagement and prioritization of joint strategic initiatives, which will address equitable economic development, the health and safety and quality of life of citizens. The initiative is “a journey toward excellence,” Hripko said.

“What the Baldrige process does is ask you to collaborate, work together, define and come up with joint objectives where we can move the needle because we’ve committed to working together, all these strong organizations, growing the same direction,” he said.

Hripko added the collaborative is accountable to metrics, selecting measurements and looking at data.

“We will judge ourselves by not only how hard we work, but how we move the needle, be that employment, help or some social challenge the community faces,” he said.

Stephanie Norling, Communities of Excellence executive director; Lowell Kruse, Communities of Excellence chairman and co-founder; and Al Faber, Baldrige Foundation president and CEO will speak at Tuesday’s news conference.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.