VERSAILLES – Partners for Progress (P4P) held its summer mixer in the Riviera Room at the Stillwater Valley Golf Course near Versailles. Several attendees dodged rain drops to enjoy a round of golf prior to the meet and greet.
The mixer gave Darke County Economic Development Director Mike Bowers and Workforce Specialist Tamala Marley an opportunity share updates with the membership.
Bowers introduced the NextGen Group that is currently working on a strategic plan to engage the next generation of workers and families and encourage them to call Darke County home. Darke County’s NextGen is working with the Ohio State University Extension to assess the needs of the next generation and what they are looking for. Bowers said the U.S. Census is projecting the county will lose population over the next 20 years. “How do we come against that? How do we make sure we get to a break even and not lose population,” he said. One area where the county has made gains is with the 25-29 year-old demographic. That part of the population has grown by nine percent in the last five years.
According to Bowers, a piece in the puzzle to not losing population is to make sure the right type of housing is available. He suggested holding a housing summit to get banks, developers and village and city leaders on-board and moving in the right direction. Bowers highlighted what Versailles is doing by developing higher-end housing, but noted the county is lacking in mid-level housing for young people that may or may not have started a family. He said they aren’t looking for the high-end housing right out of college as they begin to start their careers and families.
Marley shared the success of the Manufacturing Camp held this past week. Senator Sherrod Brown began pushing for Manufacturing Camps five years ago and 22 Ohio counties participated in the event this year. She felt the junior high age participants were enthusiastic as they learned about the job opportunities available at local manufacturing facilities. The response from the manufacturers was just as enthusiastic. Marley said the manufacturers called the participants “engaged, enthusiastic, and one of the best group we’ve ever had.” She praised the manufacturers for taking the time to work with the youth, “Our manufacturers outdid themselves,” she said.