Summary: In 2015 Montgomery County, Ohio, won a $2.3 million Department of Labor grant, aimed at helping laid-off workers via industry sector partnerships. Montgomery County used the grant to accelerate a sector strategies approach to meeting employers’ workforce needs, and late last year it opened a Business Solutions Center that served more than 300 businesses in its first six months.
This case study outlines how workforce and economic development leaders in the Dayton area partnered to assist the region’s business community and dislocated workers, and how data helped them get there.
- Montgomery County landed the largest Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant grant award in Ohio after showing the strong need for new and replacement workers in the Dayton region and the economic impact of two major economic development projects using Emsi’s input-output model.
- Around the same time it won the grant, Montgomery County merged its workforce and economic development offices and now houses both of them in a new Business Solutions Center.
- County officials have developed a talent recruitment strategy to attract the type of workers in manufacturing, IT, health care, and other sectors that employers are clamoring for.
Getting the Department of Labor Grant
David Snipes first heard about the Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant opportunity late on a Thursday afternoon in early 2015. By noon of the following Monday, he and his team in Montgomery County, Ohio, had submitted their grant application.
This particular Department of Labor grant was directed at reemploying dislocated workers through job-training programs borne out of sector partnerships. Snipes, a longtime workforce development and HR professional in Montgomery County, knew it would be ideal for the Dayton area.
For one, Montgomery County was already starting down the path of sector strategies. These partnerships bring together business and community leaders to help address the labor needs of an industry sector that’s important to a local economy. “We thought this grant then would enhance our ability to do these sector partnerships,” Snipes says.
In the grant application, Montgomery County focused on manufacturing and logistics to support two companies that had been at the center of recent economic development wins. Later, it expanded to include IT and health care, two additional sectors that had substantial workforce needs—both new hires and replacement workers that would be ideal for the unemployed population that the DOL wanted to target with the grant.
With little time to put together the grant application, Snipes used Emsi’s data software to quickly pull occupation projections for the county. He also generated job multipliers for recently announced projects from Fuyao Glass America Inc. and a Procter & Gamble distribution center with Emsi’s input-output (I-O) model. The impact scenarios showed the hundreds of spin-off jobs that would be created by the new business investment—estimates that in Fuyao’s case have proven conservative because the direct jobs at its automotive glass plant have exceeded expectations.
In July 2015, Montgomery County found out it had been awarded a $2.3 million grant, the largest in Ohio.
“Emsi’s I-O data was indispensable for our grant application and subsequent award of $2.3 million,” Snipes said.
Where the Grant Has Helped
“Emsi has been a very powerful and helpful tool for informing decisions. It has allowed us to determine where dollars will have their highest economic and workforce impacts.”
The grant award has paid big dividends. Montgomery County has helped dislocated workers and small businesses with paid internships and job-training programs that wouldn’t have been possible without the additional funds. These businesses include small manufacturing suppliers that Snipes and his team knew would struggle to keep and find talent with the expansion of Fuyao and Procter & Gamble.
The grant also came at the perfect time. The county had recently merged its economic and workforce development divisions when it applied for the grant. It also had just started drawing up plans for the Business Solutions Center.
A One-Stop for Businesses
Montgomery County, like other county or state governments across the U.S., has had One-Stop workforce centers for years to assist jobseekers. These centers often have programs for businesses, but Snipes envisioned something much bigger in Dayton—a focused one-stop center for employers to show that the county (both workforce and economic development) was serious in coming along as partner.
That’s exactly what the Montgomery County Business Solution Center has achieved.
The 10,000-square-foot center opened in October 2016. By April 2017, it had helped more than 300 companies with workforce planning and training, technical assistance on government requirements, incentives and financial assistance, and business courses. The center, centrally located right off I-75 in Dayton, also hosts networking events and meetings.
“Often businesses see One-Stop [workforce] centers as sometimes social service centers, and they might not see that as a resource for them,” says Snipes, the manager of the Business Solutions Center. “And they are, regardless of where they sit. But it was the perception. Once we opened the Business Solutions Center, it was like, ‘Wow, we didn’t know you did all of these things.’”
A Best Practice in Economic and Workforce Development Alignment
The center is also a testament to how well Montgomery County has aligned its economic and workforce development services. In some regions, Snipes notes, workforce development leaders are brought into a business development projects as an afterthought late in the process. Not so in Montgomery County.
The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and Dayton Development Coalition, the regional EDO, have been key partners with Montgomery County since the center’s inception. DDC, Sinclair College, Wright State University, and Miami Valley Career Technology Center have dedicated staff or office space at the center. Several of these partners have developed a talent recruitment strategy so they can market the region to cities and universities that they know the area already draws from.
“We’re in those meetings up front with our economic development partners,” Snipes says. “… It’s more coordinated here than I’ve seen in other regions. And I think the building of the Business Solutions Center pulled all that together.”
As with the grant, Emsi data helped inform the development of the Business Solutions Center and helps workforce and EDO leaders partner more easily. “Emsi has been a very powerful and helpful tool for informing decisions,” Snipes says. “It has allowed us to determine where dollars will have their highest economic and workforce impacts. The ability to unpack aggregate labor market data has made it extremely useful for developing new initiatives (such as the Business Solutions Center), grant applications, program review, and regional planning.”
Emsi provides labor market data software, consulting, and career exploration tools that help workforce boards serve businesses and jobseekers more efficiently and quickly. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 866-999-EMSI (3674), or visit economicmodeling.com.