The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

January 30, 2013

Growth Partnership to continue service to area employers

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

JEFFERSON — At least for the short term, Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County will continue to provide business service representation (BSR) to area employers.

Commissioners created the BSR position last year as a way to make sure job training programs are meeting the needs of county employers. The BSR calls upon area employers, finds out what skills they need in their employees and works with Job and Family Services to find applicants for open positions. Additionally, data gathered in these interviews helps officials gauge the health of the manufacturing and service sectors and opens communication between employers, education and government.

Last month, the board received a report from Growth Partnership on its first seven months of BSR activity. The BSR visited companies that have from five to 1,000 employees. The interviews revealed that 57 percent of the manufacturers visited were hiring or planned to hire in the next 36 months. For service provides, the rate was 47 percent for the same conditions, and for warehousing, 60 percent.

Employers consistently said that they were looking to fill maintenance positions, which have become very technical. Electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic skills are needed for many of the jobs.

The interviews also revealed that truck drivers with at last three years of experience are in demand.

Commissioners last spring appropriated $15,000 for the 2012 BSR work. A resolution passed by commissioners on Tuesday provides up to $7,500 for the work through the end of June.

The board plans to tap a three-year grant awarded to a three-county jobs training consortium and use that money to fund an expanded BSR program after July 1.

In other action on Tuesday, the board approved a grant amendment that will allow the county to pick up $43,000 in unallocated American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) money from the Ohio Department of Transportation. The money will be used to pay for capitalized maintenance on the Ashtabula County Transportation System (ACTS). With the amendment, the county’s share of the Rural Transit Grant Program under ARRA grows to $129,072.

The board also sent a 1990 Yamaha dirt bike and child’s ATV to the county’s auction site, along with four truck tires and various coins. The unused/obsolete items came from the sheriff’s department.