OEA enters final year of economic development grant

By John Bush - [email protected]

LIMA — Allen County’s business and community leaders are making “significant strides” in identifying the problems and potential solutions to local workforce development, Allen County Office of Economic Adjustment Project Manager Cynthia Leis said Monday.

Through a $3.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment and local funding sources, the Allen County OEA has hired a consulting firm called Future iQ to help enhance workforce development and networking with companies in the region.

Entering the last 12 months of the grant, Leis said they have seen some “major accomplishments,” including an increased understanding of the region’s social networks, supply chain and workforce development.

“Also, in terms of innovation … we’re now to the point where we’re going to be focused a little deeper into this analysis by using 10 to 12 focus groups,” Leis said. “With the focus groups, we’re going to be looking at the data, and understanding what it is and what the implications are for Allen and the surrounding counties.”

She said these focus groups will begin meeting the week of Sept. 19.

The OEA is also analyzing data related to the local supply chain and skills gaps among potential workers.

“We’re certainly addressing that with a lot of good things happening with the Link Lima initiative and the Ohio Means Jobs office,” she said. “But this is also trying to identify what those workforce gaps look like, and what others programs we need to be putting in place to help prepare our future workforce.”

According to analysis from Future iQ, the workforce in Allen County and seven other surrounding counties could decrease by 6,000 to 20,000 people within the next 10 years.

“How wide the gap will be depends on the growth of our companies in an eight-county region,” Leis said. “As we get further into understanding the data, we can start modeling where companies are growing, what areas are they growing, what skills, so we’ll be able to hone that shortage down a little closer.”

By John Bush

[email protected]

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.

Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.

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