Bath High School alum is an example of the OEA & AEDG focus highlighted at August 10 Economic Development 6-Month Update at the City Club
Washington D.C. based communications strategist kglobal is the latest member of collaborative economic and workforce development initiative
Story by Nick Kellis, courtesy of the Heartland Image Foundation
LIMA – Matt Wise wants to have a career in Lima.
Wise, 23, graduated from Lima Bath High School in 2012 and is studying Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toledo. He currently has an internship at the Lima Husky Refinery.
Bucking a stereotype that young Lima natives want to get their education then dash off to a bigger city, Wise hopes to get hired by Husky and make a career – and a life – in his home town.
“I’m hoping to get hired by Husky. I really like it there,” Wise said. “But even if they don’t hire me, I hope to stay around with one of the contractors like GEM Industrial (The Rudolph/Libbe Companies), RMF Nooter or engineering firms like Nexus Engineering, Jacobs Engineering or RDS. I’d like be hired by one of them, but stationed in Lima.”
“You know how the world is anymore. Everything’s going crazy,” Wise said. “I see a lot of my friends still talking about moving, but there’s a lot of other friends that want to stay local.
“A lot of people want to chase money. You get paid money, but living expenses are a lot more (in bigger cities),” Wise said. “A lot of other engineering students I talk to come back from co-op (internships) with a pretty brutal realization of what’s out there. Everything’s more expensive.
“You can always go visit bigger cities,” Wise said. “And with social media and the internet, I don’t really feel like I’m missing anything.
“If you can bring more opportunity here, if you can build the community up, bring in more businesses and jobs in a place where family and community is strong, that’s the environment I hope to build a career in and raise a family in.”
That’s exactly the attitude the Allen County Economic Group (AEDG) and its Link Lima workforce development framework, along with the Department of Defense’s Community Assistance Program hopes to cultivate, with the Allen County project, funded by an Ohio Economic Adjustment Grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment and the DOD.
“If we want to stop the decline of population in Lima Allen County and the region, we’ve got to figure out ways to get people to stay here or come back here, taking the jobs that are available,” said Lima native Cynthia Leis, the Project Manager for the D.O.D.’s Community Assistance Program.
“We want our community to be resilient,” Leis said. “When a prospective corporation is considering coming in to our region, or one of our local companies grows, we want those companies to know they have a solid community to rely on.”
On Wednesday, August 10, the third of an ongoing series of Economic Development 6-Month Community Updates will take place from 4 – 5 p.m. at The City Club presented by AEDG, including updates on Link Lima strategy and OEA projects from consultants Future iQ and kglobal.
Washington D.C. public affairs and public relations firm kglobal will be recognized as the next partner to join the effort, to oversee a comprehensive communications strategy that includes an outreach campaign to DOD interests, national and international supply chain businesses and the perception of Lima Allen County to the world, as a destination to live, work and thrive.
“Our third stakeholder meeting on August 10, we’re going to go through the social network mapping and determine where we may need to create some focus groups,” Lies said. “At the same time, we’re going to have kglobal doing the communications plan. And so communication will be a major part of what we’re doing here, to create an even more resilient community.”
Leis said perception on the internet is a priority. “If you’re a person from outside Lima Allen County and you don’t really know much about this community and you Google Lima Allen County, there are a lot of different messages you get about who we are and what we do,” she said.
“And so if we’re all on the same page together, where we’re all putting out the same type of content, no matter what site or what platform an individual will go to, they’ll say ‘oh, I see that Lima Allen County is thriving. They have jobs, they have innovation within their industry base and their professional base.’”
“kglobal’s going to scan the county and whole region as to what messages are being put out about Lima Allen County. They’re creating a ‘findings report’ and will come back with recommendations that we’ll use to develop a communications plan,” Leis said.
“We want to get the message out. We know that we have assets here. And maybe we are not yet collectively putting that message out to people that are looking at Lima Allen county and the region,” Leis said.
“If we’re trying to attract a worker to the hospital. And that worker is going to bring a trailing spouse, and a family, we want them to feel that this is a community that they can live in, work in and love being a part of.”
The OEA grant has several goals that ultimately focus on strengthening Lima / Allen County as an attractive industrial destination for both Department of Defense and private industrial contracts and interests. International economic development strategy firm Future IQ came on board in May, to advise the integration of the local economic growth plan, towards a national and international impact.
Leis said: “We have determined that our businesses are not talking to one another. So we’re not getting critical information from our businesses and we know they’re having challenges with workforce, or infrastructure or, say, finding new property.
“So there are common needs among the business and industry in our region that we can address, if we can get those companies together and start working out the problem.”
At the June 15 stakeholder meeting, Future iQ Research and Development Specialist Dr. Jeffrey Sachse presented detailed Network Mapping analytics, that around 200 Lima Allen County business and political leaders have already contributed data to. Progress from that meeting will also be presented at the Wednesday, August 10 meeting.
“One of the reasons we want to do all this analysis,” Sachse said, “is when you consider a lot of the issues about work force, economic growth, community inclusiveness, we tend to have a lot of pre-conceived notions of ‘what’s wrong’ because it’s ‘what we hear’.
“If all we do is make decisions based solely on intuition, there are things we might miss because we don’t see the overall picture. And there are other important players that we might not bring to the table because we don’t talk to them.
“So what we’re trying to analyze for each individual with a stake in community is ‘how am I connecting to other people to get things that I need, that I can’t do myself.’
“What the network map does is show you what other businesses in the region are doing and give you a way to connect to those businesses and explore those opportunities,” Sasche said.
“If I’m a new business owner or I have a new idea, this shows me that there’s a market in place for me to open that business and see more immediate success, because I know there are people out there that are looking for what I have to provide.
“You may be sitting next to a gold mine you may not know exists. It may be in this room (at The City Club). When you come to the stakeholder meetings and participate in the surveys, now you know that there’s a market for what you’re interested in selling, or making or doing.”
“And the more that we talk together about these issues – and the numbers form the basis of that conversation – the better solutions we’re going to come to,” Sachse said.
More stakeholder meetings will follow throughout the year, as program initiatives are put into action in the Lima Allen County community and surrounding region.
Find out more about the next OEA Stakeholder meeting and other OEA/AEDG initiatives at visit future-iq.com »