The December, 2013 unemployment figures have been released. The Marion County unemployment rate for December,
2013 decreased to 7.1% from 7.6% in November. For Ohio, the unemployment rate in November was 7.2%, seasonally
adjusted. And the unemployment rate for Marion County in December of 2012 was 7.2%. This is positive news for
Marion and a significant decrease of one half of one percent from November, 2013 to December, 2013. I remain
optimistic that 2014 will be a year of positive and sustained growth. In terms of numbers, the labor force decreased by
200 from October, 2013 to December, 2013. The number of unemployed decreased by 100 for the same time period.
I’d like to briefly mention an innovative project in our region designed to increase the interest level of students in
pursuing technical education and manufacturing careers. Numerous reports have documented the difficulties of
manufacturers in recruiting new workers, particularly those with solid technical skills. Perhaps you, particularly as a
manufacturer, have experienced similar obstacles. This condition is likely to get worse as data shows fewer high school
students are pursuing academic studies that will prepare them for careers in manufacturing. This trend must be changed.
A small coalition of Career and Technical Centers, local manufacturers, and economic development organizations are
developing a pilot program – known as the “Mobile Lab” – that would serve Champaign, Franklin, Hardin, Logan,
Madison, Marion, and Union counties. The pilot proposes to develop a Computer Integrated Manufacturing Lab Program
with the goal of promoting technical positions in manufacturing to students, parents, educators, and community
organizations. The program will have two components: (1) a mobile laboratory which would visit intermediate and high
schools and other locations to promote technical education and positions; and (2) permanent labs, patterned after
RAMTEC at Tri Rivers Career Center, at select career and technical education institutions that would complement the
mobile laboratory as a permanent site for training. The mobile laboratory would consist of a trailer packed with advanced
manufacturing technology such as CNC machinery, robotics, computers and other equipment. The coalition is currently
engaged in an outreach effort to solicit funding from both the public and private sector. Stay tuned.
I asked our friends at the Alber Enterprise Center to give us an update on their services and activities. Thank you to
Candace Boahene for the following. The Alber Enterprise Center is more than a workforce development facility at The
Ohio State University’s Marion campus. Their core focus is finding solutions for employers in various sectors.
Employers will discover that the Center’s specialized resources and customized educational programming will enable
their growth and competitiveness. Some examples of their recent projects include 1) coordinating structured on-the-job
training with job mastery certification, 2) implementing a new process called The BRIDGE to resolve business issues, 3)
increasing the bench strength of leadership teams through customized training and coaching, 4) empowering employees to
improve productivity, and 5) enhancing customer service methods to create more market share. Plus, this center aims to
provide continuous economic prosperity in the Marion community, for the future. For more information about Alber
Enterprise Center, visit www.osutrainingtoyou.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (740) 725-6325.
CANDO will continue our business retention & expansion visits in 2014 with the goal of exceeding our 25 visits
conducted in 2013. That is how important we feel the retention & expansion of existing business, primarily industrial, is
to the Marion community. And to kick off 2014 I am pleased to share an email I received from Wyandot Inc. indicating
that they hired a net total of 35 new employees last year and are in the process of hiring another 20 to start within in the
next 30 days for another line expansion. This will bring their total employment to just under 400. This is great news
starting out the New Year!!
Now for a couple economic statistics. The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index rose to 80.7 this month from a
December reading of 77.5. Overall industrial production increased 0.3% in December, a fifth consecutive monthly gain.
Thank you to John Scharer for his guidance, knowledge, and service as a member of the CANDO board for the past 6
years. His leadership will be missed.