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Cuyahoga County Council awards $1 million for sweeping worker-training initiative

September 13, 2018

Cuyahoga County Council awards $1 million for sweeping worker-training initiative

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Council on Wednesday approved up to $1 million for a sweeping worker-training initiative proposed by County Executive Armond Budish that is aimed at training under-skilled workers for jobs in the manufacturing, health care and information technology industries.

The money is part of a $2.5-million Workforce Connect initiative that will use tax dollars and private-sector contributions to fund up to three organizations that would coordinate the training of workers in those three fields.

The county will fund the effort over a three-year period. If the public and private partners fail to raise the expected $1.5 million on their end or do not fund organizations in all three of the targeted industries, the county’s $1 million contribution will be proportionately reduced.

Budish has said that Workforce Connect is meant to build bridges between people looking for jobs or looking to improve their skills and employers who are searching for skilled workers. The health care, manufacturing and technology sectors were chosen because that is where qualified workers are needed today and over the next few years, Budish has said.

The first organization to be established will focus on manufacturing, and work could begin on it in January 2019. The health care organization would come next, followed by the IT organization. Those could be created later next year.

The legislation also includes a special provision for the IT organization that encourages it to focus on blockchain technology and its commercial applications.

When the Economic Development and Planning Committee was tweaking the initiative last month, committee chair Jack Schron drew attention to ongoing discussions in the community around making Cleveland a hub for blockchain development. In simple terms, it is a digital ledger that records transactions publicly, chronologically, and securely. It is the underpinning for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but has many other uses. 

Under Budish’s initial proposal, the county’s $1 million contribution would have been funded from the Health and Human Services levy. Council members questioned that decision, and instead opted to fund it through the county’s Economic Development Fund.

The private-public partnership covering the rest of the funds includes the City of Cleveland, Cleveland Foundation, Deaconess Foundation, Fund for Our Economic Future, Greater Cleveland Partnership, The George Gund Foundation, Cleveland/Cuyahoga County Workforce Development Board, TeamNEO and United Way of Greater Cleveland. 

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