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April 24, 2007
Section: Editorials

Goal of competition: Aid region's economy

Here is a great opportunity to lay more groundwork for economic growth in this region of Ohio. There is a competition for federal funds that we want to tell you a little about, while wishing the best for the groups in this region who are competing for the funds.
Northeast Ohio, including Stark County, has qualified to seek a $5 million national grant over three years to develop businesses and jobs of the future, and to educate workers to be ready for those jobs. Stark Education Partnership is playing a role in the Northeast Ohio effort, which is operating under the name FUTURE NEO. It stands for: Focusing on Unique Transformations Using Resources Effectively - Northeast Ohio.

It's a mouthful, but it's an important effort. The Northeast Ohio group is one of two in Ohio chosen by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to compete nationally for a share of $65 million in U.S. Department of Labor funding. The other is an economic development organization centered around Dayton and Springfield.

If funded, FUTURE NEO will pull together the resources of several business development groups, one of which is MAGNET, the regional Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network. They will join with area universities, including Stark State College of Technology, and the Stark Education Partnership, a center of research and advocacy for education reform.

FUTURE NEO would concentrate on helping to develop new technology jobs in fields such as fuel cells and nanotechnology. It also would work to encourage workers and students to become prepared for the jobs that such emerging fields will demand. Finally, it would encourage local government to create greater efficiencies that can aid in economic development.

Efforts such as this represent immense levels of hard work behind the scenes. We are impressed by the business and education leaders in this region who are dedicated to economic development. Work such as this can lead to a brighter economic future for workers, students and business owners.

We support the organization's competition for the federal funding.

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