Delaware County IN becomes among first Work Ready sites in the Midwest

Work One needs more people to become ready to build

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - More than a year ago, Mayor Dennis Tyler and local government invested in a Work Ready program that provided training and education in advanced manufacturing.

 The deal to take the class and graduate and a job would be waiting in one of several manufacturing plants whether it was Progress Rail, Magna Powertrain, Mursix or others.

 Delaware County Commissioners along with the mayor got an update this week from Work One, the state's employment arm, that the county had been certified as a Work ready community along with Randolph and Rush counties.

And Mike Row, the new president and CEO of Work One, said many companies in the Midwest needed skilled labor whether to make parts, fabricate metal or assemble durable goods.

Row, who succeeds Barbara Street, the longtime leader of Work One efforts in eastern Indiana, comes from a manufacturing background, running a company in Bluffton that fabricated metal.

And he sees growth in production, logistics and warehousing in central Indiana as car makers like Chrysler are expanding in Kokomo and Tipton, and parts makers like Magna continue to expand.

Last year, local government and business partnered to create the Regional Advanced Manufacturing Program to meet the needs of employers to fill entry level positions.

The training provided by Ivy Tech Community College offered the basics of blue printing reading, CNC concepts, production process and quality control to ready an employee for advanced manufacturing.

 Work One has seen dozens of placements from the program and is looking for more people to take the free training and be ready for manufacturing openings.

Phil Lyon, an employment counselor, recently said only a handful of people were currently in the program, and there were still plenty of openings for entry level manufacturing jobs,

Tyler mentioned recently that unemployment in Delaware County had dropped to around 8 percent, about 2.2 percent under a few years ago.

While that number reports the number of people who receive benefits, there are still thousands of people receiving unemployment along with dozens of job openings posted on area employment sites.

The mayor and others predict a strong construction season as government and schools plan renovation and construction projects.

There also the local housing market where the new $60 million Village Promenade is being built along with plans for a veterans housing complex downtown and an assisted living center at Memorial Drive and Tillotson Avenue.

Ball State also has a $30 million rebuild of Johnson Hall complex besides a new $14 million retail shopping site anchored by Dick's Sporting Goods and built near Muncie Mall.

The mayor recently said developes and investors are looking at Muncie and Delaware County for many reasons, including a skilled workforce and partnerships that provide a great quality of life.





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