Northeast Ohio groups find success, help create jobs with Make It in America grant

Collaboration exceeds projected goals for reputable grant program

The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, Medina County Workforce Development, Team NEO, and WIRE-NET are pleased to announce the completion of a major, grant-funded project that has helped firms improve their competitiveness and create new manufacturing jobs in the region.

The four organizations were awarded the $1.8M, three-year grant courtesy of Make It in America (MIIA), a program funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. Department of Labor, and Delta Regional Authority. The grant closely aligns with the Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy (RECS) and targets mid-size companies in biomedical, automotive, and advanced energy sectors that use materials like polymers in their manufacturing processes.

Paramount to the work conducted by the team is addressing the workforce needs and solutions to drive growth. This requires strong industry-driven perspectives. Many training and upskilling programs need to be customized to fit the company’s needs, and these require a strong understanding of capabilities in our workforce system. More importantly, companies need assistance in understanding how to access existing programs so they can reap the greatest benefits.

“A holistic approach to workforce challenges is the best strategy for company success, i.e. incumbent worker upskilling, internships, structured OJT, and talent planning facilitated in parallel with company growth plans,” said Judith Crocker, Workforce and Talent Development Consultant for MAGNET. “An intermediary can be a trusted partner in identifying and accessing solutions to a company’s workforce challenges and acting on behalf of the company to access and braid together resources to meet short and long term goals.”

The results of this program include the following:

  • 41 companies were identified as needing assistance, exceeding the initial goal of 25
  • $10M to $25M estimated in new investments
  • 68 new jobs created (exceeding goal of 50), with 45 of the newly trained participants gaining full-time employment
  • 65 jobs retained
  • 203 incumbent employees and 39 unemployed or dislocated workers were trained; 265 earned credentials and certifications from said training.
  • Of the 39 participants who received training in welding and CNC machining, 24 found full-time employment.

In addition, the team worked with a number of other Northeast Ohio partners to execute this program, including BioEnterprise, NASA Glenn Research Center, and the higher education institutions of University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga Community College, Lorain County Community College, and Stark State College.

“The collaboration of these Northeast Ohio groups was instrumental in the notable success of the program,” said Jay Foran, Senior Vice President of Industry and Innovation for Team NEO. “The partnerships enabled professional and technical connections that were critical to this important undertaking.”

“It’s been very gratifying working with our Northeast Ohio partners to help these 41 companies improve their ability to compete globally by helping them innovate, develop improved operational efficiency, or enhance their workforce effectiveness,” said Paul Boulier, Vice President of Industry and Innovation for Team NEO. “Our team’s ability to listen to each company’s specific needs, and then create customized solutions, has resulted in strengthening our manufacturing supply chain here in Northeast Ohio.”