Monday, February 22, 2010

Job-training grants target high-growth fields

Columbus State Community College and a local nonprofit group will receive about $5 million each in federal stimulus money to retrain more than 1,000 Ohioans in fast-growing fields.

• BioOhio and community-college partners will use $5 million over three years to train 660 people who have been laid off or are underemployed for a career in Ohio's growing biomedical industry. It also will train 40 individuals already in the field to move up into higher-level jobs.

• Columbus State, which is part of the BioOhio project, will use a separate award of $4.6 million to train people for warehouse and distribution jobs. The Labor Department announced a total of $225 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awards yesterday.

"Bioscience's emergence as a key growth industry in Ohio can only be maintained with an abundance of well-qualified workers," said Tony Dennis, BioOhio president and chief executive officer. The nonprofit group's mission is to accelerate discoveries in bioscience and help bring them to market.

BioOhio will provide training in the regions of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo -- in conjunction with Columbus State and five other community colleges.

The schools will work with businesses, labor groups and work-force agencies in each region to make sure students are prepared for the demands of the jobs. All participants will receive course credit, and most will walk away with an industry-recognized credential.

Eleven biomedical companies already have signed on, including central Ohio's International Specialty Products, PharmaForce and Roxane Laboratories Inc.

"Workers completing this training will directly contribute to Ohio's strengths, especially in manufacturing and testing," said Bill Tacon, BioOhio's senior director of work force. With its grant, Columbus State hopes to employ 300 new logistics workers in central Ohio within two quarters.

The college had planned to launch a pilot program with business partners in mid-April and will now use the federal grant to expand the program, said Cheryl Hay, administrator of its Center for Workforce Development. Partners include ICAT Logistics, Midwest Express Group and ODW Logistics.

Hay said the project was developed through the Ohio Skills Bank, which links teams of educators and employers in each of the state's 12 economic-development regions to determine the hot jobs.

"This is one of the first home runs," she said.

Jobs in transportation and logistics grew 172 percent in Franklin County and the six surrounding counties from 1990 to 2000. The industry accounted for more than 40 percent of the state's job growth over that time.

The Labor Department's stimulus announcement also included two other Ohio groups: the Berea Children's Home and Family Services, and Cincinnati State Technical College. Each will receive $4.9 million to train residents in nursing and other high-demand health-care jobs.

The federal Health and Human Services Department also announced $750 million in stimulus awards yesterday.

Two Ohio health-care providers will receive more than $53 million to adopt new health-information technology to reduce medical errors and improve patient care. Ohio Health Information Partnership got awards of $28.5 million and $14.9 million and Greater Cincinnati HealthBridge was awarded $9.7 million.

"By helping doctors and nurses consult with one another through technology, we will improve the quality of medical care offered across our state -- particularly in rural areas," said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat.

For details on the Columbus State program, call Cheryl Hay at 614-287-5491 or e-mail to The BioOhio program will not start for several months and a contact has not been established.


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