Stark State College among five Northeast Ohio campuses receiving a share of $5.3 million approved for collaborative workforce development

COLUMBUS, OH – Students at Stark State College, Kent State University, The University of Akron, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and Lakeland Community College will be able to enhance their education and job preparedness in several fields thanks to funding approved by the state Controlling Board to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.

Through partnerships with area businesses and higher education stakeholders, each of the five campuses was able to secure $143,333 in funding. Governor John Kasich and the legislature targeted $8 million in the state capital budget to assist Ohio’s public universities, community colleges, and career technical centers in providing the most up-to-date education possible in an effort to provide a skilled workforce for in-demand jobs.

The latest round of funding, which totals $5.3 million, will allow for the purchase of equipment in the fields of information technology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, additive manufacturing, cloud manufacturing, smart business automation, and cybersecurity. The purchases are funded by the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) program.

Local business partners said the funding will help prepare students for in-demand jobs in the region.

“The goal of The University of Akron’s RAPIDS proposal … to purchase a metal 3D printer to enhance advanced manufacturing education is beneficial to our company,” said Dallas Olson, vice president, global engineering for The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

“Because of Stark State’s combination of quality curriculum and up-to-date electrical lab equipment, we can count on being able to hire students with skill sets we need to assure we are constantly and efficiently producing product to meet market needs,” said Matthew Tokar, director of maintenance operations for GOJO Industries.

“As a local manufacturer, Spence Technologies’ biggest struggle is finding skilled workers,” said Sara Spence of Spence Technologies Inc. “The HIVE (at Lakeland) provides students and community members an opportunity to participate in personal manufacturing and gain exposure to manufacturing as a career field.”

ODHE Chancellor John Carey said the RAPIDS program has helped different regions in Ohio address their most pressing workforce needs while preparing traditional and nontraditional students for successful careers.

“When our schools collaborate to secure funding through the RAPIDS program, it gives students more opportunities to succeed while strengthening regional businesses and Ohio’s economy. It’s a win-win,” Chancellor Carey said.