Workforce center opens


Second center being looked at with ARPA money

By Jacob Clary - [email protected]



Lauren Walker, the economic development coordinator for the city of Hillsboro, tries out virtual reality training.

Lauren Walker, the economic development coordinator for the city of Hillsboro, tries out virtual reality training.


Julie Bolender cuts the ribbon officially opening the Highland County Workforce Development Center alongside multiple other Highland County officials.


Jacob Clary | The Times-Gazette

Highland County celebrated the grand opening of the Highland County Workforce Development Center early Friday morning with multiple officials from many organizations in attendance. They included officials from Senator Rob Portman and Congressman Brad Wenstrup offices, who presented proclamations to celebrate the occasion.

“As a county we are extremely grateful,” Julie Bolender, director of Highland County Economic Development, said. “We’re extremely grateful for all of the partnerships that made this happen and we are so excited to get this open, to make a nice place for our residents and our businesses to use and it’s just a wonderful opportunity for everyone and we are grateful for everything.

Bolender said it’s been less than a year from start to finish on the project with Dr. Nicole Roades, president of Southern State Community College (SSCC), and Amy McClellan, executive director of workforce development at SSCC, being the writers and people who secured the grant that built and furnished the space. Bolender also said the village of Greenfield and Highland County Board of Commissioners helped with the center, too.

She said the short-term goal of the center was to offer GED, literacy and college preparedness courses through the Adult Opportunity Center of SSCC. She said the center’s first “major” coursework would be medical assisting, with residents able to get jobs in medical facilities in the county thanks to the courses. Bolender said some of those facilities even offer tuition reimbursement.

The center, alongside the coursework, also houses specific rooms for different uses. There is one big room that could be split into two smaller rooms using a partition. Bolender said this room could be used by businesses for training or upscaling employees. There are also three smaller private work areas that she said could be used by residents if they want a private space to work remotely.

Bolender said the center offers virtual reality headsets that offer a way for people to undertake virtual work training that allows people to try work tasks in a virtual setting.

“We feel like it comes at the most opportune time,” Highland County commissioner Jeff Duncan said. “Listening to the comments from the chamber is, workforce is the top priority for everybody here in the county. We’re glad that we’ve got this established and I know a lot of people put in good bit of hard work into getting it going. And one of the questions we had, just at the end of the discussion this morning was, you know, is there a need for more of these and actually we’ve been having this discussion in our office. We’re looking at using some ARPA funding to possibly start up another one of these because this is something that’s needed here in the county and, just so you know, we’re thinking about it. We’ve got some funding coming into the county and it’s been discussed that we need another location.”

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

Lauren Walker, the economic development coordinator for the city of Hillsboro, tries out virtual reality training.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/10/web1_Redone-pic-1.jpgLauren Walker, the economic development coordinator for the city of Hillsboro, tries out virtual reality training.

Julie Bolender cuts the ribbon officially opening the Highland County Workforce Development Center alongside multiple other Highland County officials.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/10/web1_DSC_0214-1.jpgJulie Bolender cuts the ribbon officially opening the Highland County Workforce Development Center alongside multiple other Highland County officials. Jacob Clary | The Times-Gazette
Second center being looked at with ARPA money

By Jacob Clary

[email protected]