Ohio Lt Gov
Ohio Lt Gov
From the left, Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted; Jennifer Oddo, executive director of the YSU Center for Workforce Education and Innovation; Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency; and YSU President Jim Tressel.

Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted joined Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel and other state and local officials today to highlight the Mahoning Valley’s numerous multi-million-dollar initiatives to develop a skilled workforce to meet the growing needs of the region’s emerging high-tech markets, including electric vehicle, battery and additive manufacturing.

The news conference, which also included Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, was held inside the Excellence Training Center, now under construction on the YSU campus, and comes three weeks after Husted announced a $12 million community investment in the Mahoning Valley as part of General Motors’ repayment of tax credit incentives. The investment includes $5 million to YSU for workforce development and for the creation of the YSU Energy Storage Innovation and Training Center.

“Having in place a skilled workforce development infrastructure here at Youngstown State is a critical part of preparing the local community for in-demand jobs that are emerging right here in the Valley, giving them and their families a chance to participate in the continued economic growth of the region,” Lt. Governor Husted said. “This investment sets the stage for another successful chapter in the region’s strong manufacturing heritage.”

Mihalik added: “A skilled workforce is the cornerstone of Ohio’s economic development strategy. This new training center will make Youngstown State a leader in workforce development and prepare students in the Mahoning Valley for high-tech jobs of the future.”

YSU President Jim Tressel thanked Gov. Mike DeWine, Husted and Mihalik for their continued commitment to the Mahoning Valley. “The support that we’ve received across the board, from state and federal agencies, has been nothing short of remarkable,” he said.

“Throughout our 113-year history, YSU has focused on creating opportunities for the people of the Mahoning Valley region. As we move into the third decade of the 21st century, we will keep that focus by playing a leading role in providing the training, research, innovation and workforce development to transform the economic future of our area.”

Among the workforce development initiatives underway at YSU:

  • Excellence Training Center now under construction on the YSU campus. The 54,000-square-foot ETC will provide high-tech space for machining, metrology, CT scanning, advanced mold making, additive manufacturing and automation/robotics with partners that include ExOne Company, the U.S. Department of Defense, America Makes and the U.S. Air Force. Construction is funded through $7 million from the state of Ohio and $5.1 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, with $1 million in operational funding from the Ohio Department of Higher Education.
  • YSU IT Workforce Accelerator, in partnership with IBM. The initiative is designed to better align workforce with industry in-demand skills, providing greater access to jobs through alternative educational pathways like apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships.
  • YSU Energy Storage and Innovation Training Center. The U.S. Department of Energy announced last month a $1 million partnership with YSU and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to advance workforce development for the battery manufacturing industry. The project will assist in the development of the YSU Energy Storage and Innovation Training Center to support the battery and electric vehicle manufacturing industry in Northeast Ohio – a region increasingly referred to as “Voltage Valley” due to the number of investments made in the area by the electric vehicle industry – by helping supply a capable workforce. 
  • Virtual Career Fair. YSU, through the $5M GM community investment and in partnership with Ultium and JobsOhio, will lead and launch a Virtual Career Fair through a 24/7/365 digital experience designed to showcase the Mahoning Valley region as a great place to live, work and do business. The VCF will serve as a one-stop-destination to connect the community with in-demand career pathways, training and jobs.
  • YSU Center for Workforce Education and Innovation. The center, led by Executive Director Jennifer Oddo, formerly with IBM, oversees all of the university’s workforce initiatives, focusing on workforce innovation, workforce education, research and commercialization.

“We will work with organizations to design and deliver actionable workforce strategies, educational programs and workforce services to help develop in-demand industry skills while advancing employability outcomes for the workforce,” Oddo said.

David Sipusic, executive director of the ETC, said partnerships across a broad spectrum of public and private entities is the key to creating a successful workforce development ecosystem.
“We understood early on that no single agency or institution could pull together the resources and expertise and funding needed to make this work,” he said.

ETC is a partnership of YSU with Eastern Gateway Community College, America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana County Career and Technical Centers, Choffin Career Center and the Youngstown City Schools.

The $12 million in community investments announced last month are required as part of the settlement for GM’s repayment of its tax incentives. In addition, GM will repay $28 million in tax credits. The state of Ohio required that GM refund the tax credits and make the investments following the company’s decision to close its Lordstown assembly facility.

In addition to the $5 million allocation to YSU, the agreement includes $3 million to the Village of Lordstown for the design and construction of a new water tower, $2.5 million to the Eastgate Council of Regional Governments for local infrastructure improvements and $1.5 million to the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition to support community workforce development.


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