Raise The Bar To Use Grant Funds For Recruiting And Upskilling

Raise the Bar Hancock County is in line to receive up to $930,000 over the next three years as part of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association’s (OMA) $23,492,808 award from the Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act “Good Jobs Challenge” program.

OMA is the lead applicant and system lead entity for one of the 32 projects throughout the country to receive a portion of $500 million in federal funds.

The federal initiative aims to get Americans back to work by strengthening workforce partnerships that lead to good-paying jobs.

Raise the Bar is among OMA’s network of manufacturing industry sector partnerships (ISPs) that will receive funding from this grant. Raise the Bar will conduct specific recruiting and upskilling components of OMA’s workforce development action plan, benefitting the Findlay and Hancock County region.

“I am thrilled that Raise the Bar will be receiving support from the Good Jobs Challenge grant awarded to OMA. This investment, in combination with the guidance and best practice sharing with OMA and peer industry sector partnerships, will build upon Raise the Bars work and have a tremendous impact for growing our local trained and credentialed manufacturing workforce,” said Findlay Mayor Christina Muryn, President, Raise the Bar Board.

We spoke with Raise the Bar Executive Director Tricia Valasek about the new grant.



Findlay-Hancock Economic Development’s Director, Tim Mayle, added, “This grant will allow our community to attract additional manufacturing talent to our region. The timing of this funding aligns exceptionally well with our community’s ongoing efforts to add a substantial number of housing units within Hancock County. We know the importance of housing and other infrastructure for workforce development, and we look forward to collaborating with Raise the Bar to achieve local success.”

OMA’s workforce plan prioritizes recruiting, training, and retaining underrepresented groups for the manufacturing workforce, including women, veterans, people of color, and individuals returning to the workforce after incarceration.

“We project 1,000 Ohio employers to engage in hiring, retaining or advancing a participant served by this initiative,” said Ryan Augsburger, OMA president. “Our goal is to enroll 6,000 participants across the state in one or more training programs that leads to a job offer or upskilling opportunity at their incumbent employer.”

In response to regional needs and the needs of the target populations, Raise the Bar and its peer ISPs will execute an OMA-developed, evidence-based Entry-Level Learn-and Earn (ELLE) model to prepare a future workforce.

The strategy, which gives employers the opportunity to build a workforce trained to their specific needs, includes recruiting, pre-screening, preparing job skills training, onboarding, and ongoing support and job coaching components.

“Ultimately, the Good Jobs Challenge grant will lay the groundwork for exponential, ongoing impacts beyond the 36-month grant period by operationalizing sustainable new training programs, formalizing referral partnerships, accelerating ISPs’ momentum, and building underrepresented communities’ interest in manufacturing careers,” Augsburger said.

Raise the Bar (RTB) Hancock County is a 501(c)3 industry-sector partnership changing how individuals learn about and prepare for Hancock County’s careers and industries.