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FINDLAY, Ohio, September 7, 2016 – Findlay and Hancock County now have someone working full time to erase a worker shortage that threatens to cripple the local economy.
Laurie Zydonik on Wednesday was introduced as director of Raise the Bar Hancock County, created to tailor future workers for local companies.
Zydonik previously served as director of market intelligence for National Business Media, based in Broomfield, Colorado.
“We need a pipeline of employees for the future,” said Anthony Iriti, Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development director.
About 1,600 workers must be added to Hancock County’s workforce each year over the next few years to replace retiring baby boomers, he said.
Iriti has called it “probably the single largest crisis hanging over” Findlay and Hancock County.
Raise the Bar, a nonprofit, is funded by businesses, United Way of Hancock County, the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation, Hancock County, and city of Findlay. Each entity is contributing $30,000 per year for five years for the cause.
But already, jobs are going unfilled. This year alone, Hancock County businesses need over 3,000 workers to fill positions opening from retirements and new positions, Iriti said.
Those more immediate worker needs are the focus of Dan Sheaffer, who on Wednesday was introduced as director of Hancock HIRES (Helping Individuals Reach Employment Stability), which helps fill current jobs in collaboration with Ohio Means Jobs-Hancock, training programs and industry.
Hancock HIRES is part of the Findlay-Hancock County Alliance. Sheaffer also is coordinator of the Alliance’s Small Business Resource Center.
The biggest shortages are truck drivers, applied engineering, and tool and die makers.
Sheaffer will be recruiting workers regionally and even nationally.
“We need more bodies to fill the jobs,” he said.
Zydonik and Raise the Bar’s focus is long term. Much of her job will be fostering collaboration among the schools, social services agencies, industry and other segments of the community.
Local schools and students — from high school all the way down to preschool — are a big focus.