ASHLAND — Business leaders, employees, local officials, educators, and more braved Wednesday’s morning rain to attend the North Central Workforce Alliance Summit at the Mount Vernon Estate.

The event kicked off with a speech from Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who also addressed the 2021 summit. His speech focused on the workforce challenges Ohio faces and the programs the state has available to address them.

The keynote speaker for Wednesday’s summit was Sue Ramsey, an Ashland University Hall of Fame Women’s Basketball Coach. Ramsey coached basketball at AU for 20 years and won the NCAA Division II national championship title in 2013.

Ramsey’s speech, titled “Great Teams Have Great Teammates,” focused on five key components to be a great teammate at home, at work, and at NCWA. 

“They know what the vision and core values are of the team, it’s a strong foundation that gives direction,” she said.

“Know what your role is, remembering all roles have equal value. Bring it, star in it.

“Communication, understanding begins with listening, learn to be a good listener and communication will take place on a high level.

“Commitment, all in, all the time.

“And attitude, positive, grateful, and encouraging.”

Attendees also heard updates from a variety of speakers from Simonson Construction, the Ashland County Community Foundation, and Ohio Business for Immigration Solutions. 

Ohio Business for Immigration Solutions (OBIS) is a statewide coalition of businesses, trade associations, and chambers of commerce that “believe modernizing our immigration system is critically important for the growth of the state’s economy,” according to its website. 

The state organizer for OBIS, Madison Whalen, spoke at Wednesday’s summit to advocate for immigrant laborers and to encourage businesses to hire immigrants to meet their workforce needs.

Immigrants in Ohio make up around 5 percent of the state’s population, have a combined spending power of $15 billion, and contribute $6 billion in taxes, according to statistics Whalen shared.

Immigrants in north central Ohio are also more likely to have bachelor’s and graduate degrees than their U.S.-born counterparts, she said.

“If we’re not filling these jobs and Intel and others are coming here with tens of thousands of jobs that need to be filled, while this isn’t a silver bullet it is one interesting and creative way to try to help our workforce issue in the state of Ohio,” she said.

Foundations Community Childcare board member Barbie Lange gave an update on the planned childcare center to be built in Ashland’s Industrial Park.

So far, the board and the Ashland County Community Foundation have managed to raise $3.5 million of their $4.5 million goal, and they plan to break ground on the 12,400 square-foot facility in Spring 2023, Lange said.

The final business leader to address the crowd was Simonson Construction president Dan Moore. He thanked the community for its continued support of the company and praised NCWA.

“We think that this group is definitely one of the most influential contributors to our community. We support the NCWA for the benefit of the entire workforce and our local businesses,” he said.

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