PREBLE COUNTY — Members of the Preble County business community met Thursday, June 26, to discuss workforce development in Preble County.
Shawnda Combs, economic development director at Preble County Economic Development, said she sees the power of what can happen when the community works together. Combs said the Preble County Development Partnership, Inc., was formed to address important growth and development issues in Preble County, including business retention and recruitment of new businesses.
When retaining businesses, Combs said the Partnership does what they can to encourage a company not to move out of the County. Some companies the Partnership has been able to keep in Preble County include The Timkin Company, Lewisburg Container and Rexarc International, Inc. Combs said 430 existing jobs have been retained.
Combs said there have also been 170 new jobs added to Preble County through businesses such as Shelby’s Closet, Free Flight Manufacturing and Lewisburg Corrugating.
“We constantly strive to grow our existing business, but we also recruited new businesses,” Combs said.
Combs spoke of the efforts to get younger people involved in the work community, such as when manufacturers open their doors to let 10th grade students tour their businesses. The Partnership plans to take students to these businesses again on National Manufacturing Day, Oct. 3, 2014.
Combs said during the past four years the Partnership has been in existence, it has affected Preble County by more than $71 million and said the biggest success they’ve had has been in the area of workforce development.
“We’ve done our job,” Combs said.
Jayne Knoop, vice president of the Partnership, spoke about the WorkKeys test that helps quantify a person’s skill level by measuring real work workplace skills and comparing it across an industry. If a minimum level is reached, that person receives a National Career Ready Certificate.
The three categories of the WorkKeys Test are applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information.
Knoop said they are focusing more of their efforts on helping the transitioning workforce, which she said is usually the most difficult group to access and test. Knoop said 10 employers in Preble County have said they will recognize the NCRC certificate.
Knoop said the group has been testing high school seniors with the WorkKeys Test during the past few years.
Mark Birnbrich, project manager with Ohio Means Jobs, was the main speaker at the meeting and presented the resources offered on the Ohio Means Jobs website.
Employers can post a job opening and search resumes. People of all ages can use the training button, which will give practice in science, math and reading. High school students can also access ACT and SAT practice.
There is also an unemployment icon, which will help map out what needs to be done by those who file for unemployment, such as making a resume after eight weeks of filing for unemployment, starting the WorkKeys practice test 14 weeks after filing and taking a career profile 20 weeks after filing.
Birnbrich said his group is also working on a icon that will show job seekers jobs that pay a specific rate.
At the end of the meeting, Combs summed up the goal of the Partnership, which she said is to build the economy.
“Workforce development is really the backbone to the success we will have,” Combs said.