Leaders from local government, schools, and community groups attended a GRIT informational meeting at the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, in New Boston, Ohio, on Friday, May 31.
Representing Scioto County, the ESC joined Adams, Brown, and Pike counties in support of a proposed $20 million workforce development pilot program known as the Growing Rural Independence Together Through Jobs (GRIT) Project. The project is a collaborative approach designed to maximize federal, state and county resources in rural Ohio to build a high-demand workforce and stimulate economic growth through public/private partnerships in Southern Ohio.
The goal is to increase the economic development by strengthening the workforce and possibly build a virtual work center in which folks can work for companies virtually from our area. The proposed outcome would put 5,000 people to work in living wage or career-pathway jobs.
GRIT Co-Chair Denise Reading presented the program, which started in Adams County and has grown to include 15,000 residents between January 2019 and June 2023. The proposal is included in the current state of Ohio draft budget, awaiting signature by Gov. Mike DeWine on July 1 to make it official.
In the ESC’s submitted letter of support, submitted in March, Superintendent Sandy Mers wrote, “The SCOESC is committed to supporting participants in developing plans that can help them become a part of a vibrant new rural economy. We believe the goals of The GRIT Project align well with our current and future efforts to offering outstanding, yet practical, high-quality professional development, administrative services, collaborative units, and overall support to enhance the quality of instruction, expand equitable access to resources and maximize operating and fiscal efficiencies.”
The ESC also offered in-kind contributions to support The GRIT Project, including meeting space in its business center building at a reduced rent, and helping to training employees to serve as coaches within its member school districts.
“There is a great need in Southern Ohio to help people from every background understand themselves and how they fit into the workforce and there is an equally great need for there to be jobs that pay a solid living wage that can support families. The strategic collaboration among the partners of The GRIT Project and the innovation around filling local jobs while bringing new virtual jobs to the community, will provide greater opportunities for citizens and will help Southern Ohio rebuild its economic infrastructure,” Mers wrote.
For more information about the ESC, visit online at www.scoesc.org, or follow on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.