If any state knows the drive of friendly intrastate competition, it’s Ohio. From the Bengals–Browns “Battle of Ohio” to the Cincinnati Reds’ and the Cleveland Guardians’ coveted “Ohio Cup,” our state’s competitive roots run deep.
That same level of competition exists when vying for site selection by big-name companies. Let’s be clear — any Ohio site selection win is a win for the entire state. The positive economic ripple effect of companies like Intel placing a permanent pin on Ohio’s map reaches beyond any city’s limits. Business attraction and expansion net new job growth and capital investment, along with the correlating supply chain. And, given today’s interconnectedness, the reach of supply chains often knows few physical bounds.
A recent Team NEO report, “Developing Opportunities,” delves into two years’ worth of site-selection inquiries to identify common factors among the fastest-growing sectors and better understand, as business leaders, where future opportunities lie. Naturally, the report underscores how complex site-selection really is, including immediate site-based influences like infrastructure, broadband and access to water. Team NEO’s report also touches on one key factor that plays a role in companies’ long-term decisions about where to build: talent.
Thankfully, Northeast Ohio is ripe with various higher education institutions, joint-vocational schools, community colleges and four-year institutions. Diversity among our region’s academic offerings allows for tailored learning environments for our learners and employers.
Together, higher education institutions can fill all stages of talent pipeline needs driven by new company attraction. Intel alone estimated generating 7,000 new construction jobs across various trades, and it’s already begun among concrete workers, pipe layers and road construction workers. Trades like these are prominently represented in Northeast Ohio and have been for decades. Sixty years ago, Lorain County Community College was founded, in part, to help the region capitalize on the booming automotive industry. We continue to work with local trade-based employers to create hands-on training programs to meet their talent needs.
One example lies in a recent partnership between LCCC and the Northern Ohio Training Center for Bricklayers and Allied Craft workers, headquartered in Lorain County. The partnership awards college credit to apprentices as they work toward their journeyman card. This approach strengthens a functional progression within the trades, moving workers from entry level, to project management, to supervisory roles.
Thinking beyond site completion and looking into the high-tech fields, we’re seeing again a shift in the ways in which employers grow and sustain their own talent pool. More specifically, some are rethinking the idea of the intern. Take TRG, for example. The subsidiary of TruWest Holdings worked with LCCC to develop a custom training program that essentially assigns ongoing entry-level micro electromechanical systems and information technology work to a consistent rotation of LCCC interns, who are often hired full time after graduation. This long-term approach fuels TRG’s employee recruitment, development and retention strategy.
Our region’s talent pipeline strategies are designed to fit the needs of each employer, while offering replicable strategies and best practices across various industries. As industries consider Ohio as their home, they find a region full of current success and unlimited potential. LCCC and our employer partners are ready to fill their talent needs. ●
Marcia J. Ballinger, Ph.D. is President of Lorain County Community College