he Firelands Partnership launches regional strategic plan
By CAROLINE MELLOH
HURON — The Firelands Partnership kicked off the region’s new workforce development initiative, Firelands Forward, on Thursday, May 9, on the BGSU Firelands campus. Members of the partnership and business leaders from across the region gathered to converse on how to proactively blend county lines and grow as a more united economic region.
The Firelands Partnership is a broad coalition of business, education and government leaders in north central Ohio dedicated to advancing economic competitiveness and quality of life in the Firelands region. In collaboration with Erie and Norwalk economic development corporations, the partnership’s goal is to mobilize the community to improve workforce opportunities through the creation of focused programs, tools and resources.
“It’s presented as workforce development, but really it’s community development,” said Duff Milkie, General Counsel and EVP Business Development, Cedar Fair.
Over the next four months, consultants Chris Spence, Principal of New Growth Group, and Hrishue Mahalaha, Chief Economic Advisor of Innovation Economy Partners, alongside the Firelands Partnership will conduct a series of community surveys and conversations, along with data collection and research to complete a strategic plan for the future.
“Quite often when developing regional workforce plans, teams don’t pay sufficient attention to driving broad community outreach,” says Mahalaha. “Our goal here is to flip the model on its head and aggressively engage our citizens from day one. We want to establish transparency so that we can earn the credibility of the community, and we want to iteratively fine-tune our recommendations based on the data points we gather. This approach will help ensure that when this phase of work is done, that it will translate into not just a shiny report, rather the efforts will enact focused activity that catalyzes regional transformation.”
Among the group’s first steps is to set up a unique job database to spread awareness about the 4,000 available jobs among the 6,000 companies in the two-county region, as well as initiating online fireside chats the last Friday of every month with the goal to open conversation to the community on a variety of topics.
“The state of Ohio is open for business,” Chancellor Randy Gardner, Ohio Department of Higher Education reminded the crowd at the kickoff event. “And we want your ideas.”
For community members seeking more information regarding the Firelands Forward initiative, visit its official website at FirelandsForward.com and sign up to receive updates.
The Firelands Regional Partnership is a broad coalition of business, education and government leaders in north central Ohio dedicated to advancing economic competitiveness and quality of life in the Firelands region. The Firelands Partnership recognizes the two key ingredients to successful economic development in every community are collaboration and vision. The successful recipe for that same economic success over neighboring counties is to create partnerships that allow for regional collaboration.