DARKE COUNTY — Darke County Economic Development held its annual Partnering For Progress Summer Mixer Tuesday night at The Light Foundation’s Chenoweth Trails facility in western Darke County.
P4P is an economic development effort created to provide support to the Darke County business community. A diverse collection of organizations and individuals from across Darke County are involved in the effort, including representatives from the Littman Thomas Agency, Greenville National Bank, Fort Recovery Industries, Whirlpool, Brumbaugh Construction, Midmark and other local companies, as well as elected officials such as Darke County Commissioner Mike Stegall and Greenville Mayor Steve Willman.
Greenville native and former New England Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light spoke at the event. Light is founder of The Light Foundation, a nonprofit that strives to instill the values of responsibility, accountability and hard work in young people by providing them with unique outdoor learning experiences. The Light Foundation also owns and operates the Chenoweth Trails facility.
Among other initiatives, P4P partners with the business community to increase the growth of quality jobs in Darke County; develop new tools and resources to support existing businesses, as well as to attract new businesses to the area; to aggressively promote Darke County as an attractive business location and to strengthen partnerships to aid the growth and health of the entire region
The group is especially interested in workforce development, working to provide educational opportunities so that workers can develop appropriate skills needed by employers in the region.
“Workforce development is obviously a very big piece for us right now,” Darke County Economic Development Director Mike Bowers said. “We have companies that have over 300 jobs available that we’re working to get filled.”
Challenges to filling those positions, according to Bowers, include finding employees who are drug-free, possess the appropriate skills and are willing to show up to work on time. Bowers also is working with administrators at Edison State Community College to identify the gap in skills needed by local employers and create internship and apprenticeship programs to try and fill that gap.
Recent workforce-related events organized by the group include the third annual 20 Under 20 Awards in April, which honored eight graduating seniors from Darke County, as well as students from Mercer, Shelby and Auglaize counties; as well as a recent Senior Networking and Interviewing Day at Greenville High School. Future events include a “Career Concert” scheduled for Oct. 3 at Eldora Speedway, as well as an upcoming job fair open to everyone from graduating seniors to retirees looking for part-time work.
“People who want to work in this county have the ability to do so,” Bowers said. “I can give them leads on who to look at and who to talk to.”