Workforce center announces opening


The Highland County Workforce Development Center is planned to open on Oct. 28, 2022, according to Highland County Economic Director Julie Bolender at the weekly Wednesday meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners.

Bolender said the grand opening event, with the building at 1300 Jefferson St., Suite A, in Greenfield, would start at 8 a.m. and run until 9 a.m. with a Coffee and Commerce event held by the Highland County Chamber of Commerce. At 9:30 a.m. there will be a ribbon cutting, to be followed by a testing of all the new technology, tours and demonstrations.

“It’s a great location for multiple uses and we hope certainly the people in the industries of Highland County will utilize this and see what a great blessing it is for this county,” Bolender said. “And I truly appreciate the support of the board of commissioners, the village of Greenfield, Southern State Community College. Together, you all have made this happen and it’s a great asset for Highland County.”

Bolender said the center has two classrooms with “all state-of-the-art technology.” She said those classrooms will be separated by a removable partition, which would allow people to remove it if they want to have a larger room for business training or an offsite corporate meeting.

She said the center has three private shared work spaces, which could be used for multiple purposes. For example, if someone who works from home needs a place to work privately, they could go to the center and get some work done that way.

Bolender said one of the first collaborations for the center was partnering with the Great Oaks Consortium and Adena Medical Center to offer medical assisting courses that would be the first level of education for people interested in health care. After the course, people would be credentialed as medical assistants and could go work at one of the health care facilities in the county, where they could continue their education.

In other news, Tim Dettwiller, director of the Highland County Workforce Leadership Council’s ACCESS Program, presented the board of commissioners with a proposal on a possible new software. Dettwiller said the software, called Transeo, would look to connect the businesses, schools and community partners of the county together and collaborate on building a better workforce network.

Dettwiller said Transeo would help connect all three of those entities by the students being able to find business partners, the businesses being able to market themselves to students and community partners being able to share their services with the other two.

“We landed on Transeo because it checked more boxes of everything we wanted for both business and community partners and schools,” Dettwiller said.

He said the biggest reason for the choice of Transeo over similar platforms was the work-based geo-tracking involved in it. Dettwiller said, previously, businesses didn’t like to get involved in work placements or internships because it was cumbersome for their HR departments to keep track of hours and evaluations. However, with the new software the system automatically tracks when a student arrives for work and leaves, making it easier for those businesses.

Dettwiller said the software would be around $40,000, with the upfront cost and implementation being around $20,000. He also said he met with the five county public school superintendents on Tuesday, where they said they’d be “more than willing” to take on the $20,000 for other recurring costs. Dettwiller asked the commissioners and the county for the one-time cost of $20,000.

The commissioners did not comment one way or the other on whether they would pay the cost.

Dettwiller said what he learned from the meetings he’s had with schools is that they need access “now.”

“It takes two to three months for Transeo to come in, train and get everything put in place. So, our goal is January 2023, having this in place where we have a pool of employers over here saying ‘Yes, we’ll participate.’ And when I say participate, that means they will take on students for work placement.”

Concerning a question about whether the businesses would be willing to financially help, Dettwiller said the organization is working with businesses on how and if they could “sweeten the pot” for kids going through career readiness programs and then successfully complete internships.

He said they haven’t gotten commitments yet, but there have been conversations about those students then being able to skip the probationary period and go full-time or being able to start out at a higher pay threshold compared to others.

On a separate matter, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin said that, concerning the Appalachian Community Grant, the state plans to collaborate with different planners on the process. He said he heard that the counties will be doing their planning and requests, and then they’d be able to choose planners following that. He said the idea would be that the planning would be submitted and applied for first, and then a year from now the implementation part would be awarded.

Britton said the sheriff’s office sent the board of commissioners quotes they received for two new 2023 Dodge Durangos. The total price would be $92,478 which is a “pretty decent” price. He also said the purchase was not previously budgeted, so the money would need to be moved to facilitate the purchase.

After discussion the commissioners decided to take a closer look and table to decision until they have time to research more on the topic. Duncan said they would come back to it “probably” before the end of the year.

Duncan said sales tax receipts were received for October. He said the receipts were $24,321 ahead of October 2021 and ahead of 2021 overall by $257,846.24.

“Sales tax numbers continue to be positive,” Duncan said. “That’s a good thing. We’ve got two more months left here in the year. We’ll see how they turn out. At this point we’re doing very well.”

The commissioners proclaimed Oct. 24-28 Red Ribbon Week. Multiple school officials attended the meeting to comment on each school’s events for the week.

Susan Rhoads, a representative for the Hillsboro schools, said the school was doing an essay contest for both middle and high schools, would be showing videos during the week on drug abuse, and also holding a Halloween door-decorating contest.

Kevy Jones, a representative for Fairfield, said they would also be doing the essay contests in middle and high schools, holding morning announcements each day next week, and continuing the tradition of doing dress-up days with different themes.

Karie Emery, a representative for Bright Local, said they’re also doing the essay contest and theme days, but will be focusing on “being naturally high.” She said the school would talk about drug abuse, but also about what each student’s natural high is, whether that is sports, music, band or going outside.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

Pictured (l-r) are Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Tim Dettwiller, who was making a presentation on workforce development in the county. (l-r) are Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and Tim Dettwiller, who was making a presentation on workforce development in the county.
Leadership council asks for software support

By Jacob Clary

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