Written by Dan Robinson, Times Staff Writer, January 26, 2017 10:22am
County’s economy is strong and expected to get even stronger
The economic health of the county is good and on the threshold of setting records, according to Jon Cross, President and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance.
Cross was one of the presenters at the Alliance’s Economic and Community Development Breakfast on Friday morning at Henry’s Restaurant in Kenton. Community and business leaders filled the banquet room to hear an update on local development and the programs being offered to businesses.
The work force is estimated at 14,800 with 14,100 workers on the job, said Cross. That translates into an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent.
“Basically we are at full employment,” Cross said. “Business is booming in Hardin County.”
He noted there have been no major layoffs of the work force. Plus businesses, such as Mid-Ohio Energy and Hardin Memorial Hospital, are expanding and investing in the community.
Cross also noted the announcement late last year that EverPower Wind Holdings LLC would move forward with developing 189 wind turbines within the county. That, he said, represents an investment of $300 million in the community.
A second wind farm is in development with a third on the wings, he said. Once the projects are all completed, there is the potential that the three energy producers will have spent $1 billion in the county.
Plans are in the making to develop the former Hardin Central School site in Kenton into a group of retail stores and there is some initial interest being shown by a company to move into the Kmart building after that stores closes in early March.
The Alliance is working to continue to strengthen the local economy through training programs for the work force and the development of opportunities for young people to secure professional training, said Cross.
The Student Job and Career Fair to take place next month at Kenton High School will connect students from across the county with at least 30 area business leaders.
“This is a great work force development issue we are launching,” said Cross. “If we don’t help provide good employees to you, our economy won’t grow.”
There is a need for commercial buildings, said Cross. Investors are looking beyond Hardin County because they are seeking “buildings ready to go.”
Hardin County Job and Family Services Director Barb Maxson said her agency is planning programs in partnership with Ohio Means Jobs to provide additional training to the work force. Some sessions are slated for next month during which JFS will meet with businesses in small groups to discuss what their needs are from the labor force.
“This is a very exciting time,” said Maxson. “We are all working together with the Alliance and the schools … We want to be where you go to when you need help to fill a position.”
There are work force training program funds available, she said.
“There are dollars on the table you can access,” agreed Cross. “Things are coming together.”
Later in the meeting, Steve Martin, dean of the Ohio Northern School of Pharmacy, gave an update on the university’s mobile clinic and introduced intern Colin Frank to share the advantages in using the school’s tobacco cessation program.
The cost of having employees who smoke, said Frank, goes beyond them missing work a few times a year. There is also the burden on employers to pay for the additional health care for those using tobacco.
It has been estimated that 30 percent of the county’s population uses tobacco in one form or another. The program ONU is offering increases the participants’ chance of successfully quitting smoking by ten times, said Frank.
“Or goal is to improve the health of Hardin County,” said Frank. “This is a tool for the community to help the community.”
Written by Dan Robinson, Staff Writer, Kenton Times, December 21, 2016 01:37pm
Alliance tabs Purcell to lead chamber, tourism programs
The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance hired a friend to join its team of directors.
Jesse Purcell is one of the founding members of the Women L.E.A.D. program through the Alliance and will become its Director of Chamber and Tourism on Jan. 2. She replaces Annetta Shirk, who resigned from the Alliance to accept another job.
Alliance President/CEO Jon Cross said, during a press conference Tuesday morning, the board conducted an “executive search” to replace Shirk. It was searching for someone who expressed strong community values. He said they found that person in Purcell.
She is a native and resident of Kenton. She currently serves as a community manager for the American Cancer Society and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer program.
She brings “nearly 15 years of experience in building successful fundraising campaigns, recruiting and retaining volunteers and stewarding strong business partnerships with career experience from the nonprofit, business and manufacturing industries,” Cross said.
“We are adding another all-star to the team,” he said of Purcell’s appointment.
“I am really excited about this,” said Purcell at the press conference at the Alliance office in Kenton.
The mother of a three-month-old son and a four-year-old daughter, Purcell said her children played an important part in her decision to return to her native county.
“I want to be a part of building a community where my family can grow up,” she said. “This job gives me a chance to stay closer to them, plus I look forward to telling everyone about the wonderful things happening in Hardin County.”
Purcell said she has ideas to present as part of the Alliance team and plans to “hit the ground running.”
“We believe she is the right candidate for the job,” said board chairman Brian Sprang. “We expect great things for 2017 and beyond.”
Purcell’s responsibilities will include overseeing the Hardin County Ambassadors, the Safety Council, Women L.E.A.D. Program and the Young Professionals Alliance.
“Great strides are being made in Hardin County and I feel fortunate to help advance these efforts through the important work being done at the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance,” said Purcell.
KENTON, OH - Hardin County Chamber & Business Alliance President & CEO Jon Cross announced two new initiatives for 2017 during the Alliance Christmas Luncheon. The organization will develop a student focused job and career fair, as well as the formation of the "Young Professionals Alliance" for those ranging in age of 21 - 40, under the umbrella of the Hardin County Chamber & Business Alliance organization.
As part of its ongoing workforce development strategies, the Alliance will host a new "Hardin County Student Job & Career Fair" in February 2017 for graduating seniors and college students. Nearly 500+ twelfth grade students from local school districts throughout Hardin County, as well as area college students, will be invited to meet with several local and regional businesses that are recruiting full-time or part-time employment, summer jobs and internship opportunities. Businesses expected to participate will range from careers in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, education, financial, healthcare, retail and service industry.
"As a first of its kind event for our community, not only does it give students the opportunity to explore more career pathways and interview for job opportunities, it allows businesses to recruit a skilled and viable workforce, and helps our community attract and retain a younger generation to live, work and prosper in Hardin County," said Jon Cross, who also serves as the director of economic development.
The student job & career fair will be held at the Kenton Senior High School gymnasium on Friday, February 10th from 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Businesses, at no cost, can preregister by contacting the Alliance at 419-673-4131. Each participant will be supplied with a table and chairs.
In addition, the Hardin County Chamber & Business Alliance will launch the "Young Professionals Alliance" to allow professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, teachers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, farmers, manufacturers, realtors, and many other career industries throughout Hardin County the opportunity to come together for networking, educational and social opportunities.
Last year, the Alliance met with 30 plus young professionals to discuss the formation and experiences they would like to participate in to help with their networking or career development focus. Details will be announced in early 2017 about the first organized gathering.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Young Professionals Alliance, please email your name and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Dan Robinson, Kenton Times, Staff Writer, December 13, 2016 12:04pm
Price: Local educators focus more on students not bound for college
For many years, the focus of public education was preparing students for college.
But not every graduate was headed to a university, noted Dr. Jeff Price as he addressed the Annual Alliance Christmas Luncheon sponsored by the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance.
To better address the educational needs of the non-college students and the business community, the school districts in Hardin County are shifting their focus to preparing students who are hoping to enter a trade school or secure a job following graduation.
Price, the superintendent of Hardin Northern Schools, said in recent years, there has been much emphasis on making sure students pass standardized tests and comparing the results of that testing system with other districts across the nation.
Teachers and administrators had been told the U.S. was falling behind other countries and needed to “up the standards.” All students from K-12 were to be prepared for college, he said.
“It’s a good goal, but I’m not sure it is the correct goal we should have,” said Price.
Many of those college graduates found themselves entering the world where there were no career opportunities in their chosen fields.
“We have a skills gap in the U.S.,” he told the group of businesses, professional and civic leaders gathered at the Hardin County Armory. “There are six million jobs open in the U.S. and the gap will continue to widen if we don’t help students focus on their careers.”
In recent years, he continued, the leaders of all county schools are telling their students attending college is a good decision, but there are other pathways open.
Two students may leave high school together with one going on to college and the other entering a career. While the college student is attending classes and paying tuition, said Price, the other student is earning money and staying out of debt.
“It could be hard for the student in college to catch up,” he said. “Economically, it makes sense. A good plumber will make more in his lifetime than a poor lawyer.”
The idea of testing students continually is also counter-productive to education, said Price. Testing may show how well a student knows facts, but it doesn’t put a value on their soft skills.
“We have put education on an assembly line,” said Price. “Our teachers and students have lost their relationships with each other because we are so focused on the tests.”
Employers are more often searching for employees who show up on time and work hard within a group,” said Price. Those are some of the lessons being taught in courses throughout the county.
“You can be proud of the work we are doing in Hardin County’s schools,” he said.
The six districts within the county system are partnering with each other, but also with businesses and schools of higher learning to train young people to perform jobs and learn marketable values.
“Each of the schools is looking for opportunities to work within their communities,” said Price.
The businesses willing to assist in monitoring programs, job shadowing or training programs should contact the local superintendents of the Alliance.
Students today are encouraged at an early age to identify an interest, Price said, and the schools are working to help make that interest a career.
The success of the new direction in education will depend on business leaders like those attending Thursday’s luncheon, he continued.
“Ultimately, you are our partners,” he said.
Following Price’s presentation, Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance Director Jon Cross announced two new programs being developed by his office to assist in the partnership between local businesses and school districts and the development of connections between young professionals.
One program, announced Cross, will develop a job and career fair in February. The program will bring an estimated 500 high school seniors and local college students together with area business leaders to recruit full-time or part-time employees for summer jobs or internships. There are expected to representative available from manufacturing, agriculture, education, financial, healthcare, retail and service industries.
“As a first-of-its-kind-event for our community,” Cross said, “not only does it give students the opportunity to explore more career pathways and interview for job opportunities, it allows businesses to recruit a skilled and viable workforce and helps our community attract and retain a younger generation to live, work and prosper in Hardin County.”
The Alliance will also be developing a Young Professionals Alliance for young people between the ages of 21 and 40. The group will work together in networking, educational and social opportunities, said Cross.
Written by Dan Robinson, Kenton Times, Staff Writer, November 23, 2016 11:24am
Area students will begin training for jobs in the near future which may not be fully developed today.
Ohio Hi-Point Career Center Superintendent Rick Smith reported to the Hardin County Economic and Community Development Committee Friday morning that within two years his school will begin offering classes in smart technology.
It will be an opportunity for students to be on the cutting edge of self-driving automotive and drone technology which will be unique worldwide.
There are plans in place for development of the technology to be tested on U.S. 33 between Dublin and Bellefontaine, using the Transportation Research Center located between Bellefontaine and Marysville.
Hi-Point enrolls students in Union, Logan, Champaign and Hardin counties, he noted.
There will be need for people to design and develop sensors, switches and communication devices for the project to track the automated vehicles.
“This is a large project,” said Smith after the session.
“It will involve TRC, Ohio State, Michigan, ODOT, Carnegie-Mellon and more. This is a chance for students to help lay the foundation for a whole new job market.”
Cars are already being developed with lane sensors and automatic braking systems, he noted.
It has been predicted that within 15 years, most cars on the highway will be automatically driven.
“This is one of the few places in the world where we could expand the models and develop these type of jobs,” Smith said.
Students in the new program will be able to earn college credits and train for highly marketable careers, he said.
The school will be investing $1.5 million in remodeling classroom space for the smart technology and animal science programs, he said.
Hi-Point is also looking to return some of the courses which had been discontinued, said the superintendent, including HVAC and environmental.
There is also work being done to introduce an applied manufacturing class.
The career center has established satellite programs in 12 of the 14 districts served by Ohio Hi-Point, including one in Kenton and Upper Scioto Valley.
The satellite programs allows students to consider career decisions at a much earlier age with some enrolled in seventh or eighth grades.
Smith said there also are plans at Hi-Point to expand the internship programs to allow for more students to get hands-on training at area businesses.
The program has increased this year from 20 to 35 students with plans within five years to have 100 interns working through the school’s program.
He encouraged the business owners at Friday’s meeting to video the jobs done at their facilities to give the Hi-Point students more of an idea of the type of work they would be doing.
There has been an emphasis this year on expanding and better training the county’s work force, said Jon Cross, President and CEO of the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance and Economic Development Director.
All county schools are offering internship programs, said Cross.
“Next we need to talk to parents and convince them things have changed in education since they were in school,” he said.
The added training is another example of the good economic news for the county, said Cross.
He noted there are 300 workers based out office located on the former Rockwell lot who are overseeing the installation of a Marathon pipeline through the area.
The workers are making an impact on local restaurants and hotels, said Cross.
There also has been news of EverPower signing an agreement to provide power to Amazon and install $300 million in wind turbines in 2017, said Cross.
Two other wind developers are in the process of setting up units in the county, he noted.
“There could be $1 billion invested in the county over ten years,” he said.
Development and expansion plans also were shared as the business owners went around the breakfast table in a discussion.
Hardin Memorial Hospital is planning to add an oncology department and expand telemedicine technology to bring the best “medical expertise throughout Ohio to Hardin County,” said Crystal Scott, Director of Nursing at HMH.
Thomas and Marker Construction Co. will be building the new department.
“All of this really helps our community,” said Cross.
Written by Tim Thomas, Kenton Times, Editor, November 23, 2016 11:00am
The 30th annual Christmas Around the Square Craft Fair will be held on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Hardin County Courthouse in downtown Kenton.
Sponsored by the Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance, the event will feature three floors filled with arts, crafts, and home party dealers. The Kenton High School Top 20 will perform holiday music at 9:30 a.m. Homemade food will be provided by the Hardin County Homemakers.
The annual basket auction will begin at 11 a.m. in Veteran’s Hall in the courthouse. It will feature 27 baskets with some truly unique containers. As always, they are filled with beautiful gift items, and various gift certificates from local businesses.
For more information on this event contact the Alliance at 419-673-4131 or email@example.com.
The basket auction will feature:
Ada Technologies – “Christmas Wreath.” Carol Slane Florist in Ada has created a beautiful wreath to decorate your own home or as a gift for someone else’s. Gold berries, gold pinecones and gold tipped leaves adorn this wreath along with a green, red and gold bow and ribbon that runs throughout.
Century 21 Sunway Realty – “Snow Capped Icicles.” This snowcapped, lighted crystal castle sits in the snow covered forest with a lighted snowcapped pine tree and lighted deer looking over the castle. Frosty the Snowman guards the front door to this enchanting display. Deer and tree are lit with AAA batteries and the castle has AAA batteries, plus can be plugged in directly.
Chris’s Country Cabin – “Rustic Reindeer Sleigh.” This metal sleigh features a reindeer with a festive plaid scarf around his neck. The inside is filled with greenery, red berries, a scent warmer with “Mistletoe Kiss” warmer cubes, a “Candy Cane Cappuccino” candle from Swan Creek Candle Company and a snowman ornament.
Community First Bank – “Snowman Lantern.” A festive red lantern with red berries hanging on the handle. Nestled inside standing on white berries is a snowman with a black hat and red, green and white scarf.
Domino’s Pizza – “Family Fun Night.” This is the perfect basket for a cold winter night at home. Included are the games, Trouble, UNO, and Pictionary, coupons for pizza, cheesy bread, and brownies and boxes of M&M’s, Skittles and Reece’s Pieces.
First Citizens National Bank – “Jingle all the Way to First Citizens National Bank.” A cute basket to keep for yourself or give as a gift. It includes 2 First Citizens coffee mugs filled with candy, jingle bell ornaments, 4 State coin collections, Jingle all the Way Pillow, Jingle all the Way picture, 2 First Citizens pens, 2 jingle pens, 2 note pads, 2 jingle candleholders and $30 in Chamber Gold Gift Certificates.
Hardin County Elected Officials – “We Are In For A Ride.” Our county officials have put together an old-fashioned sled decorated with greenery, ribbon and glitter stuffed full of gift cards from Martins Meat Mart in Forest, Domino’s, Subway, Viva Maria Restaurant in Ada, Bob Evans and Burger King.
Hempy Water Conditioning Inc. – “Christmas Lantern.” Hempy’s has put together an adorable house-shaped lantern all decked out for winter. Inside is a candle, a sled, snow covered pinecones and frosty logs tied up with rope and a cute little snowman peeking out from the greenery. On top is more greenery, pinecones and tied up logs.
Heritage Cooperative – “Jack Frost.” A wire basket filled with 3 frosted tea light holders (battery tea lights included). A frosted snowman and tree along with Jack Frost table runner. The snowman is wearing a sapphire necklace and diamond ring to frost that special loved one this holiday season.
HSLC – “A Christmas Classic.” Settle in for the evening and fix yourself a mug of hot chocolate, take your pick of assorted theatre candy, open a tin of popcorn and snuggle up with your soft snowflake throw. Once you are all warm and cozy treat yourself to any one of the 5 classic old movies included in this basket. Also included is a $50 HSLC Visa gift card for holiday spending enjoyment.
Iron Fit Gym – “Iron Fit Christmas.” A great gift for yourself or for that fitness buff on your Christmas list. A gym bag is filled with an assortment of things including a 6 month membership, coupons for fitness shakes and snacks, a water bottle, jump rope, elastic exercise bands, an Iron Fit t-shirt and a notebook to keep track of all your workouts in your quest to be more fit in 2017.
Keep Hardin County Beautiful – “Gardener’s Delight.” Everything needed for all those gardeners on your list. Basket includes a box of Febreeze scented trash bags, Miracle Grow Gardening book, decorative tin, Thanksgiving decorative bucket, $45 in gift certificates from New Leaf, $15 in gift certificates from Ace Hardware, an antique wash tub and antique garden snippers.
Kenton Nursing & Rehabilitation – “Holiday Wagon.” This adorable red wagon is ready to welcome everyone in for the holidays. Inside is a smiling snowman all dressed up for the cold and a round candle holder with a battery operated candle.
Ladies of the Alliance – “Church Bells are Ringing.” Santa is standing in the snow ringing his bell outside these two pretty lighted churches with a snow covered tree to the side. This winter scene is sitting on a tall wire basket that could easily be repurposed for a plant stand in the spring.
Liberty National Bank – “A Primitive Christmas.” A five-foot rustic distressed wood tree which lights up and decorated with greenery, raffia, wrapped twigs, berries, bells and a primitive looking star with a bell at the top. Great for those smaller homes with no room for a big tree.
Little Chicago Room – “Cocktail Hour.” A chalkboard beverage tub, shaker, jig, bamboo coasters, martini set, martini glasses, chocolates, olives, mixers and a cocktail towel.
Men of the Alliance – “The Pampered Man.” Start your pampering experience in downtown Kenton with a one-hour massage from Therapeutic Touch and a complimentary bottle of Hempz body lotion from Tiki Tanz, followed by a manly manicure and pedicure from the Element Salon & Spa. Enjoy a new pair of Toms Brogue loafers, accompanied by four pair of stylish socks provided by Twirl. Then stop over at Ths. Jitterz Coffee Company for a fresh cop of joe with your new mug. You can talk on your new bluetooth device provided by Radio Hospital/Verizon Wireless Premium Retailer. Travel to Mt. Victory to get a free oil-change, compliments of Nelson Auto Group. In Ada you will be offered a private tour of the Wilson football factory, receiving a football made for Super Bowl LI . While in town, you can also enjoy court-side seats to an Ohio Northern University men’s or women’s basketball game, wearing your ONU Polar Bear gear. Then enjoy dinner with a gift card from Viva Maria’s Pizza & Pasta Restaurant, wearing a new tie and scarf from Reichert’s Clothing Store, as well as a bottle of wine from locally owned Rose Acres. To top off the night, enjoy a sip of bourbon and fresh wrapped cigars before checking-in for an overnight stay at the Inn at Ohio Northern University.
New Leaf Landscape and Garden Center – “Burlap, Berries & Bows.” This 42-inch burlap tree is decorated with a Christmas topper of pine, snow covered berries and twigs, and a red and white country checked bow. Battery operated seed lights accent this topper. This tree is a 2-for-1. The tree topper is interchangeable with a topper of ivy, berries, twigs and a tea stained stars and stripes bow.
Ohio Health Hardin Memorial Hospital – “Christmas Lantern.” A red lantern with 3 candles inside and the top decorated with greenery, red berries and pinecones. Comes with a $50 Chamber Gold Gift Certificate.
Plaza Inn – “Basket of Goodies.” This basket is filled with an apple pie candle, a jar of the Plaza’s Strawberry Apple Spread, a pie shaped potpourri container, 3 battery operated tea light candles, a small decorative dish and teapot, a decorative bottle for your favorite lotion and a $25 gift certificate to the Plaza Inn.
Quest Federal Credit Union – “Warm & Cozy Elegance.” This elegant little chair would be a perfect addition to your home this holiday season. A beautiful cozy throw and sparkly pillow with a festive silver holiday bow round out this item from Quest.
Radio Hospital – “Frosty Nights and Snowy Days.” This rectangular crate is painted green across the front with the quote “I love frosty nights, snowy days and warm hearts.” Inside mixed among the greenery, pine cones, bells and snowman Radio Hospital has included a selfie stick, a cell phone, $15 gift certificate, Bluetooth headphones, and a couple stylus pens.
Schindewolf-Stout-Crates Funeral Home- “Light of the Season.” This lighted candle lantern is reminiscent of days gone by. The black lantern is embellished with greenery, red berries, and plaid ribbon. A cream colored, battery operated candle adds the perfect glow to welcome in the Christmas season.
Tiki Tanz, LLC – “Christmas at the Beach.” You’ll feel like you’re at the beach even if you aren’t with this basket of goodies from Tiki Tanz. Included in this beach tote are a beach towel, sunglasses, flip flops, tanning lotion, Swedish Beauty Sweet Escape Bronzer, moisturizers, water bottle, stickers, lip smoothie, t-shirts and a Tiki Tanz gift certificate for one month super unlimited tanning.
United Way – “Fifty Years of United Way.” Celebrating its 50-year anniversary, the United Way has put together a basket filled with everything but the kitchen sink! Included is a Christmas door decoration, 4 tickets to any performance throughout the season at the Freed Center, a candle centerpiece, a woman’s and man’s gold watches, a large red tote, 2 cookbooks, 4 tins of Boy Scout popcorn, a box of Lindt chocolates, an Oral B electric toothbrush with extra heads, a cross wall decoration, a gold woven bowl, a jar of change, 3 Subway gift cards, Mulled Cider assorted size candles, a Panera Bread gift card, $25 YMCA gift certificate and a Chamber Gold Gift Certificate.
Universal Home Health – “Holiday Buffet.” Enjoy the holidays with this charming antique buffet. With its worn black paint and rustic feel it will appeal to the eye wherever it is placed, either in the home as a furniture piece, or on the front porch as an outside decoration. Decorated with glowing greenery, accented with silver bells and burlap bows, this is sure to bring the holiday feel to your home.
US Bank – “Snowman & His Christmas Tree.” An old Kenton Bottling Works crate with a candy cane ornament on the front is just the beginning of this cute creation by Chris’s Country Cabin. A burlap snowman stands beside his Christmas tree surrounded by greenery, pine cones, berries, twigs, a battery operated candle, a small wrapped present and a rustic star rounds out the mix.