Greenfield home to new workforce development center

A Workforce Development Center is coming to Greenfield, Highland County Economic Development Director Julie Bolender said at Wednesday’s Highland County Board of Commissioners meeting.

Bolender said the brick-and-mortar center will located at the Jefferson Street Business Center, but will also be open to all residents, industries and businesses of Highland County.

Bolender said the center would not have been possible without the Growing Rural Independence Together (GRIT) Grant and representatives from the village of Greenfield, the commissioners, Southern State Community College (SSCC) and Great Oaks Career Campuses. She said the grant will pay for building the center.

“It’s truly a great day to be a resident or a business owner in Highland County,” Bolender said. “The basis of any solid economic development is an equally solid workforce development plan. Without a skilled and capable workforce as a county, we’re unable to meet the needs of our current industry and we’re unable to attract new industry. That industry allows Highland County residents to work where they live and that industry builds our local economy.

“People in this room have recognized that need and have come together for today’s announcement… This is a place where folks will be able to go and seek education and in-demand skills training that’s going to prepare them to enter the workforce, gain new skills and support our industry. The center is going to allow us, as a county, to attract new industry. In addition to the in-demand skills training and the educational component, businesses will be able to utilize the center for off-site trainings, whether it be leadership seminars, managerial seminars, new employee training. This facility is theirs to use. It’s also going to be a place where we can host new business incubators, where residents can utilize technology, and business development professionals can work with the area’s entrepreneurs.”

Nicole Roades, SSCC vice president of academic affairs, said she considers this a “legacy project” and that five years from now they will look at the project and think of it as a “fabulous investment in Highland County.” She said the placement of the business center made “great sense” and that she was eager to work with all involved to help the community and county.

Roades also thanked Amy McClellan, SSCC director of workforce development and academic partnerships, saying McClellan helps manage the budget, look at the projects and measure how the college is doing in the final part of the grant process.

Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin said workforce has been an area Greenfield has been focusing on for “a couple years now” and that 2021 was a target date. He said he believes that a lot of the high schoolers in the county don’t know the careers that are available in the county and that they need to be educated about them.

“We have a lot of students that graduate every single year, and a lot of the times the term that’s used is brain drain and so we think a lot of those kids are going to the bigger cities because that’s where the jobs are,” Wilkin said. “Well, there’s jobs available for them here and we just have to teach them that. We have to let them know that there’s jobs available here and that’ll slow down the brain drain leaving our county and going to the three Cs, as everyone says… But we’re going to see success out of this and I think local businesses, once they realize the benefit there in Greenfield, I think they’re going to utilize it… I think 10 years from now if we look back and realize that we didn’t start now, we’re going to say we should have started 10 years ago.”

In other news, the commissioners proclaimed Nov. 13-21 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Tammy Dennis, administrative director of the Highland County Homeless Shelter, said it has been working on fixing the problem in the county since 2004. She said the shelter has an account on all the social media networks or people can call its office at 937-393-0634 for people that want to contact them. She said it is a family shelter, which means it requires a background check, but that the check is lenient.

The commissioners also had a CDBG bid opening for a tornado siren project, but no bids were submitted. Now the commissioners will need to go through the bit process again.

The commissioners also noted that Leesburg was approved for grant money from Ohio BUILDS for Drinking Water Infrastructure projects. A news release from Gov. Mike DeWine’s office said Leesburg will receive a $974,563 grant that will replace 4,500 feet of water main, install monitoring and water treatment plant components that will help prevent depressurization, and replace old and faulty water meters. The release said the water main in the project area is cast iron and exceeded its “useful life” because it has experienced numerous breaks over the past year along S.R. 28. It said the current system does not have sufficient valves and because of that, breaks cause widespread water outages.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

From left to right, Todd Wilkin, Nicole Roades, David Daniels, Julie Bolender, Jeff Duncan, Amy McClellan, Harry Snyder, Phil Clyburn and Terry Britton pose for a picture to celebrate the announcement of the Workforce Development Center being built in Greenfield.

Bolender: ‘It’s truly a great day to be a resident or a business owner in Highland County’