OHIO VALLEY — Over 40 business leaders representing a cross-section of industries throughout Gallia and Jackson counties joined economic development, workforce development, and educators at the University of Rio Grande last month for a roundtable discussion focused on employer and workforce need as a collaborative outreach of Gallia County Economic Development, the Jackson County Economic Development Partnership, and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the Ohio State University South Centers.
“Our goal is to provide a peer to peer platform for employers from across our region to ask questions, share concerns, and offer solutions and best practices,” said Sam Brady, executive director of the Jackson County Economic Development Partnership. “Today’s discussion brought a variety of topics, focusing largely on current workforce and employee training. Education and business support partners in attendance were able to capture the tone of current workforce needs and share training and support programs presently available.”
“It is so important that we properly align resources to businesses. Higher education, K12, career tech, economic and workforce development personnel have to pull together as one team to not only meet the needs of today, but to also prepare the workforce of tomorrow to attract new investment to our region,” said Ryan Smith, president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College. “It’s our job as workforce and economic development leaders to cast the vision for our region’s future. We have to teach our kids to dream.”
Smith moderated the event.
“With an overarching mission to improve the private business sector in our community, hosting events that encourage regular dialogue amongst business leaders provides opportunities to cultivate a collective voice for local business,” said Melissa Clark, director of Gallia County Economic Development. Clark continued, “We will use the feedback received from our first event to further enhance and expand future business roundtable forums.”
The business roundtable event emerged as a product of regional focus group sessions hosted by OhioSE, the JobsOhio network partner for southeastern Ohio.
“Employer roundtables are a key initiative in our regional prosperity plan,” said Taylor Stepp, OhioSE project manager. “We believe business leaders will benefit from gathering to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face. Their perspective will be key in improving the business climate in southern Ohio.”
Gallia County Economic Development and the Jackson County Economic Development Partnership are making plans for follow up events. Business leaders interested in participating in future roundtable sessions may reach out to Melissa Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or Sam Brady at Sam.Brady@JacksonCountyOhio.com.