April 15, 2015 – LimaOhio.com, By Danae King
LIMA — Community and business leaders are brainstorming what the future holds for Lima.
Wednesday was the first day of a two-day think tank, or workshop, on workforce development in the county.
About 25 business people, educators, nonprofit representatives and elected officials came out to brainstorm as part of a $222,000 grant the Allen County commissioners received from the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment in July.
The grant was awarded for the purpose of funding workforce strategies, specifically in relation to the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center. The Ohio Regional Growth Partnership also awarded the commissioners a $25,000 grant for the same purpose.
David Beurle, CEO of Future iQ Partners, works to facilitate the workshop on Wednesday. (Danae King/The Lima News)
At the workshop, data from a recent survey of business leaders was revealed and strategies and scenarios for the future were discussed.
The survey showed that Allen County has “a very cohesive structure,” said Jeffrey Sachse, senior economist at Future iQ Partners and a consultant for the grant. “There’s a core group of very active, engaged people.”
However, one of the challenges in the county is that while there are strong relationships in the private sector and among community leaders, the two aren’t collaborating strongly together, Sachse said. That gap needs to be bridged, he said.
The 25 attendees were split into four random groups of about six people for the first day of the workshop. They brainstormed what Allen County will look like in 10 years when it comes to innovation, entrepreneurship and workforce development.
The groups created a vision and presented it.
“I think it allowed us to open up our thinking … and really do some good what if scenarios on many different paths,” said Denny Glenn, project manager of the grant with the commissioners.
The scenarios included challenges the business sector could have, how the workforce will cope with its members aging, how businesses and educators can collaborate in the future, innovative think tanks that could be formed and more.
On Thursday, the facilitators from Future iQ Partners will choose one of the four scenarios, using surveys from participants, and newly formed groups will create action plans to get the county and city to become that way in 10 years.
After that, the county plans to pursue more funding from the Office of Economic Adjustment, this time, the funding would be to put that plan into action, Glenn said.
The community leaders are working to solve JSMC’s problems and identifying other businesses who have them so they can create a bigger picture solution, Sachse said.
“It will give us a defined path forward that the community can agree on,” Glenn said.
The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.