Work Advance Initiative for Trumbull County Unveiled

WARREN, Ohio – A partnership between nonprofit organizations, public agencies and Eastern Gateway Community College plans to roll out a new initiative intended to boost workforce skills in Trumbull County.

The Work Advance Trumbull County pilot program is in direct response to the growing job opportunities throughout the region – especially the southwestern area of the city – said Lea Dotson of Warren Forward, a coalition of young people who want to bring change to the city.

“It really started with the announcement of the West Warren development,” she said. “That got my wheels turning. The best thing for us to do would be to position ourselves for the people in this neighborhood.”

This summer, ground was broken on the first phase of the West Warren Industrial Park.  Sapientia Ventures, based in Warren, plans to begin construction on a 100,000-square-foot spec building to serve modern manufacturers and distributors. Additional buildings are planned for the 82-acre site in southwest Warren.

Work Advance Trumbull would be located at the Trumbull Community Action Partnership on Palmyra Road in the heart of the neighborhood, Dotson noted.

The new program provides a three-week training course to prepare potential candidates for job openings in the future. The classes consist of refreshers in mathematics; technology training that introduces participants to the concept of 3D printing, robotics and automation; and job readiness training, which helps people with their resumes and interview skills.

Also, the program helps connect these trainees with potential employers. Career coaching services are also provided to support successful applicants.

Establishing a workforce development component to fill future job openings at the West Warren site and other regional developments only made sense, Dotson said.

“With Ultium up the street, with Foxconn up the street, I wanted to make sure we were in a position here to take advantage of that,” Dotson said.

The Work Advance program is the result of a partnership between Warren Forward, the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, Oak Hill Collaborative, Trumbull Community Action Partners, Trumbull County Job and Family Services, Compass, Aspire Trumbull County and Eastern Gateway Community College.

The first cohorts are expected to start Nov. 27, said 1st Ward Councilman Todd Johnson, who is also the pastor at Second Baptist Church. Each cohort would consist of between eight and 10 students and run for three weeks. The program expects to host six classes this year.

Alex Hertzer, assistant director for MVMC, said the program is similar to one that was launched two years ago in Mahoning County. However, this particular effort is more community centric in that the training would be held at TCAP. 

“This program will provide paid training for individuals on everything from soft skills to technical skills,” Hertzer said. “It will help them essentially get into a new career in manufacturing.”

MVMC is composed of more than 60 member manufacturers that have hired from the program, Hertzer said. The Trumbull County location provides more access to those living in this part of the Mahoning Valley.

Pat Kerrigan, executive director of Oak Hill Collaborative, said his organization administers computer and technical training for the initiative.

“A lot of people don’t have the elemental training, so we’ll do that,” Kerrigan said. All of the courses would be taught via the computer in the classroom, he said. Students will also receive a $750 stipend to go through the program and also earn a manufacturing certificate.

The next steps are to aggressively conduct outreach initiatives to recruit applicants for the program, Johnson said.  It’s important to emphasize that manufacturing in the Mahoning Valley has changed dramatically.

“Most younger people don’t know what happens at an Ultium or a Foxconn,” he said. “That’s the point of this program – to bring them into job readiness and job familiarity.”

The project was awarded a $1 million grant in 2022 through the Good Jobs Challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency, Hertzer said. 

“This is just the start,” Johnson said. “It’s getting people in the door, and this is another effort, especially from a grassroots perspective.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sapientia Ventures LLC is the owner of The Business Journal.

Pictured at top: Pat Kerrigan, executive director of Oak Hill Collaborative; Todd Johnson, 1st Ward Councilman, Warren; Alex Hertzer, assistant director at MVMC; Lea Dotson of Warren Forward; and Van Nelson, CEO of TCAP.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.