Akron Chamber, ConxusNEO Aim Workforce Efforts at Polymer Cluster

The Greater Akron Chamber and the workforce development nonprofit ConxusNEO are working with $350,000 in 2023 grant funding from the state that they say will boost efforts to attract more people to work in manufacturing and aid in job-training efforts.

One area of focus will be on the region’s group of companies involved with polymers. That’s an industry cluster that was solidified when the chamber worked with other area economic development groups and companies in the sector last year to pursue federal funding to boost domestic production.

The region ultimately did not win funding in the final round of grantmaking, but it beat out hundreds of other projects along the way, and the collaborative effort put new energy into the sector, say some who were involved.

“That was really a galvanizing effort. It’s really been a launching point for us and the cluster,” said the chamber’s vice president of research, Brian Anderson.

Most of the grant money, $250,000, will go to ConxusNEO, which will use the funds to work toward creating awareness of in-demand occupations among potential employees; developing job candidates and connecting them with employers; and supporting more internships at area companies and employers’ efforts to market themselves as places to work.

ConxusNEO executive director Michelle Collins said those efforts go hand-in-hand with helping to show young people, including those who are still in middle or high school, in Northeast Ohio that manufacturing jobs in the polymer and other sectors offer good pay, opportunities for advancement, and a clean, safe and engaging environment in which to work.

For instance, Collins said, ConxusNEO runs summer camps for middle school students to teach them about manufacturing and introduce them to area companies engaged in it.

“The intent is it will generate enough interest that they’ll pursue it in high school,” Collins said.

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Shingler, Dan (2023, February 17) Akron Chamber, ConxusNEO aim workforce efforts at polymer cluster. Crain’s Cleveland Business. Retrieved from