Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Hometown Opportunity" A Guest Post from Mike Stegall

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On Sunday, April 7th, I was invited to the Marion Community Development Organization's annual meeting held in Maria Stein at the American Legion. This event was well attended, and two of the Mercer County Commissioners attended as well. After the meal was served, the guest speaker was Jared Ebbing, the Mercer County Economic Development Director.

As a quick aside, I think that Darke and Mercer County have two of the best Economic Development Directors in the State in Jared and Marc Saluk, our director in Darke County. Both are young, aggressive, and they are making a real difference for their respective counties. Jared had an interesting program on the website “Hometown Opportunity.” This website has been developed to show our High School students what jobs and opportunities are available in our region. The object is to keep our young people here, and show them they can make a good living in the field of their choice right here at home. Jared made a great presentation, and one thing he said that stood out for me was the perception parents and students have of the job availability in our area.

How many times have you heard a parent say, “I would love to have Johnny or Susie come back here, but there is just nothing for them here.” One thing we must do is educate the PARENTS on what is available. Parents are a key part in growing our region. A positive viewpoint from them, backed with information that is readily available, and a computer link their children can follow, will positively affect their children’s choices on careers, and where to make that career.

The point Jared made was that for all the Workforce Development we are doing, and it is important, if we don’t retain our younger workers, engineers, machine operators and such, communities will start to lose population, their workforce will lose people, companies won’t be able find workers, and they will leave for greener pastures. Parents need to take a look at this website, and look at all the employment available right here at home. Darke County schools and companies have been invited to be involved with this internet effort. We are currently making the rounds to make sure all parties understand how to utilize all of the websites features. No matter what field you choose, there are available jobs here, right now.

One of the biggest misconceptions is the lack of high skilled, high paying jobs. Look at the website, especially you high school seniors. There are myriad engineering and technical jobs available within 25 miles of here now, probably one in the field you may be interested in. Parents, look at the site and help your students to see that they can attend a good two or four year college here if they want to, what occupations they can have here, and how they can make a living for themselves and their families here in the best part of the State. We have a good work ethic here, good schools (check the website!) and wonderful opportunities for young families to grow right here. Darke County, Auglaize, Shelby, Preble, and Allen counties will soon have more presence on this site also. This site right now is a work in progress, but it is complete enough to give you an idea of what the potential is here, what is available, and what our great companies are looking for. We, (Commissioners, E.D. directors, and employers), are doing what we can to make Southwest Ohio the place to live. For all of our efforts, Parents, and teachers will have a much greater impact on children than we will. This has to be a team effort.

In April, Jared will be presenting this program at the Partnering for Progress Initiatives quarterly meeting. We need our companies to see the benefits of using this site. This site will be a gateway for them to find potential employees for themselves now and in the future. I am very proud of what we have accomplished as an individual county, and as a member of the Southwest Ohio Development group. We are doing our best to make this part of Ohio the destination for business growth and retention. We will continue to do so. With the help of parents, schools, and employers, the future of our area is very bright. I do hope that parents and children who live here now, get on board and help us become all we can be.

The website can be accessed through Facebook, and other social media, or on the internet at Check it out. Let’s not wait to plan our future. The future is now.

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