OEA, AEDG continue efforts to make Lima/Allen County competitive in changing global marketplace
Story by Nick Kellis
Photos by Jay Phillips, The Heartland Image Foundation
LIMA – On Wednesday June 15, the second of an ongoing series of Lima / Allen County Stakeholder meetings took place at The City Club as part of the Allen County project, presented by Future iQ and funded by an Ohio Economic Adjustment Grant from the Office of Economic Adjustment (Dept. of Defense).
In collaboration with Allen Economic Development Group (AEDG), the multi-phase 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.
“What’s really important, in any region that’s based on manufacturing, is really you have to have the ability now to be resilient, to be flexible, to be ready to respond,” said David Beurle, CEO & Founder of Future iQ, a management consulting firm chosen from a lengthy selection process to steer the effort to build a stronger, more vibrant economy in Lima / Allen County.
“You also have to anticipate the trends that might be coming, good or bad, and be able to position yourself to minimize the negative impact on the regional economy, while you maximize the beneficial impact,” Beurle said, at the first Stakeholder meeting on May 17.
“Our job is to help the Lima community organize itself for the future. To be competitive in a changing global marketplace,” Beurle said.
That first Stakeholder meeting on May 17 launched Phase Two of the Allen County project. At each Stakeholder meeting, the crowd of area business and political leaders are engaged and made a part of the problem-solving process, led by Director of Allen Economic Development Group, Jeff Sprague, Project Manager for the D.O.D.’s Community Assistance Program, Cynthia Leis and Future iQ’s Beurle. More Stakeholder meetings will follow, throughout the process.
“Each of these Stakeholder meetings is very important because, in today’s global economy, it really comes back to local community involvement,” said Jeff Sprague Director of AEDG. “There’s change that’s constantly happening around the world that affects us here in Lima / Allen County. You can either help facilitate that change, or you can be run over by that change.
“The critical piece of what we’re doing here in Lima / Allen County is, we’re in front of that change,” Sprague said. “Now we’re providing a road map, to show local businesses how to be proactive, versus reactive.”
Part of the Allen County plan for Collaborative Growth involves bringing together employers and leaders in the community to create a united front that builds on area strengths.
“We identified a list of about 400 stakeholders in our community that have some relationship to economic and workforce development” said Cynthia Leis, Project Manager for the Ohio Economic Adjustment program that funds the project.
“Allen County received the grant because of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, but the intent is really to implement programs for the community,” Leis said.
“So we went to our top employers in the area, then we went to some smaller businesses we were able to reach through our Chamber of Commerce. We also looked at the AEDG board, the Visionary board, the Downtown Lima board and a variety of organizations associated with workforce development,” Leis said.
“I look at Allen County, I look at a lot of diversity among our industries and also the other professional services we have,” Leis added. “With our hospitals and our banking, our CPA and insurance firms, it’s a very diverse community.
“So the intent of the grant is to help with workforce development for all those Allen County industries and services, then retain that workforce, to support that diversity.”
The May 17 meeting outlined the transition from Phase One to Phase Two of the Allen County project and highlighted the go forward plan for the next year and beyond, explaining how collaborative efforts now are essential for long term manufacturing and economic growth in the community.
The June 15 meeting introduced Future iQ Research and Development Specialist Dr. Jeffrey Sachse, whose specialty is the detailed and layered Network Mapping analytics that around 200 Lima / Allen County business and political leaders have already contributed data to.
Said Sprague: “One of the things that came out of these first two Stakeholder meetings is we know we have great businesses in Lima Allen County and the region. So the Network Mapping will give us the data to measure and ask ourselves, ‘Are we moving in the right direction? Are companies succeeding? Is there growth and is there job creation happening?’
“Then we can use those benchmarks to address how we can now put together some of those partnerships and relationships, to help grow the network,” Sprague said (specifics on how Future iQ’s Network Mapping will seek to connect a variety of regional manufacturing and support services, for a more robust economy, will be profiled in a second article to follow for the419).
“What you have here is you have a very strong network of leadership,” Beurle said. Future iQ works with communities around the world, so its CEO offers a truly global perspective as to why Lima / Allen County can prosper in an ever-changing global marketplace.
“A lot of communities can’t work together. That’s not the case here,” Beurle said. “Through our Phase One analysis we came to realize there’s a core group here and they’re very well connected and very motivated.
“We’re working towards expanding that in Lima / Allen County and the region. We want to make this a very big and robust network. Smart, ready to respond, agile. And I think you have all the elements here for growth and success,” Beurle said.
Said Sprague, “Companies are telling us that Lima Allen County is on the right track. But we also know that we’ve got to grow, from a community standpoint. When you bring in external resources to help you look at things, it gives you a little bit broader, little bit different perspective on how to do that. That’s what we get with our Future iQ partners.”
The next Stakeholder meeting will take place on August 10, also at the City Club. Sprague, Leis and Beurle hope for a similar turnout for that and future Stakeholder meetings, in the months to follow.
Said Beurle, “Future iQ, our specialty is about getting ‘future ready’. There’s no point planning for today’s world when the world is changing so fast. We have to anticipate: what are the types of industry and the types of jobs that people will be wanting in five, 10, 20 years? Where are the coming opportunities?
“Thinking about the future and saying ‘OK, how do we redesign our strategy today, so in five or 10 years we’re ready to attract new businesses and the community can thrive.’”
For more information about how the OEA Grant, Future iQ and Allen Economic Development are working to create an Allen County plan for Collaborative Growth, visit future-iq.com/project/task-force-lima/.
The Stakeholder meetings are being videotaped as part of an In-Kind donation from Lima’s Heartland Image Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that specializes in media education and production of HD video content for the community and donates time and technology to archive positive arts, educational and public service events in the Lima / Allen County area.
For more information about The Heartland Image Foundation and how you can support their mission to create professional, quality HD content that promotes positive messages and enhances the image of your community, visit heartlandimage.org or The Heartland Image Foundation on Facebook.