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MOUNT VERNON – The pandemic has brought a variety of challenges to face businesses but the labor shortage and the challenge to find workers has been among the most frustrating for employers across all sectors of the economy.

In Knox County, seven manufacturers have partnered together with the Knox County Area Development Foundation and WorkDev to form a workforce readiness program with the intention of helping establish a pathway into opportunities and careers in manufacturing.

“Manufacturing is the economic foundation of Knox County,” said Jeff Gottke, President of Knox Area Development Foundation who oversees WorkDev. “There are great paying jobs and career opportunities that require a wide variety of skills.

“Often people overlook manufacturing because of they think they do not have the technical skills. The reality is manufacturers will train you for the position and this program is a first step of exploring and transitioning into a career in manufacturing.”

The seven companies that have committed to the program are (alphabetically):

Coyne Graphic Finishing


Heating and Cooling Products (HCP)

Mauser Packaging Solutions

Replex Plastics

Schafer Driveline

Ver-Mac Industries

“Replex Plastics envisions the ASPECT program helping in the short-term as people are adjusting to the current economic realities post-covid, but also working as a long-term win for the entire community,” said Mark Schuetz, Replex Plastics President. “By partnering in the ASPECT program, we hope to achieve something we could not achieve on our own, which is helping to prepare people for a great career in advanced manufacturing.”

“The labor market is tight, and employers are expanding their outreach and looking at new ways to engage candidates and to introduce them to the opportunities in their industry,” said Brandy Booth of Ohio Means Jobs of Knox County. “We have had success in the past with people in career transitions, people who were skeptical that manufacturing was the industry for them, and once they seized the opportunity, they realized they had found a home in manufacturing.

“Our hope is that a program like Knox ASPECT will provide the pathway for others to find not just a job but a career in manufacturing.”

Knox ASPECT is a workforce readiness program designed to prepare individuals for career opportunities in manufacturing.

Leveraging the resources of the seven companies, plus partner organizations like WorkDev, Ohio Means Jobs Knox County, the MEP at Columbus State and Knox County ADF, the four-week/eight class program guides candidates through a curriculum that covers a range of topics from technical training and safety to soft skills and interviewing and resume preparation.

All candidates who successfully complete the program are guaranteed interviews with each of the participating companies.

Additional companies have expressed interest but have not yet finalized their commitment.

Registration is now open and interested candidates can apply via the Ohio Means Jobs Knox County page. Classes will begin Tuesday, Oct. 5.

About WorkDev

Coordinated by the Area Development Foundation, WorkDev is a group of professionals in Knox County that are committed to identifying workforce issues and actively creating solutions through communication, education, and collaboration.

About Knox County Area Development Foundation

The Area Development Foundation acts as the central clearing house for all economic development in Knox County. ADF’s mission is to create high quality/good paying jobs, match good employers to job-ready workers, and advance efforts to support livable communities throughout Knox County.

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