Whenever I talk with a civic leader—whether from the private, public, philanthropic, or nonprofit sector—one issue keeps coming up within the first few minutes of our conversation. That issue is job preparation. Often the issue is captured in a question like: “What can we do to make sure companies have the talent they need to succeed?”
While there is no easy answer to that question, Summit County leaders are committed to building one. On March 15, civic leaders in Summit launched Conexus, a cross-sector collaboration devoted to making it easier for job seekers to identify in-demand skills and careers that offer a path to prosperity, and to helping companies secure the talent they need to prosper. (For more on how it does this, check out this short video.)
Our Fund played a role in helping build the community support for Conexus, and we have provided operating support that is helping it built networks that will generate improved talent development outcomes in key industries, including manufacturing and information technology. Conexus also is coordinating Summit County’s portion of TalentNEO, a skills-based hiring initiative being piloted by our Fund.
I wrote earlier about the critical role that two public sector leaders, Ilene Shapiro and Russ Pry, played in making this collaboration possible. But we cannot create a demand-driven talent development system without private sector leadership.
At the launch of Conexus it was impressive to see the number of companies that have already found value in being part of the collaboration. Dave Sattler, owner of the Sattler Cos., noted that over the years he’s devoted a lot of time and energy to workforce efforts in his community. Most of those efforts were sources of frustration for him and his peers. Conexus, he said, has already proven it can make a difference, and he looks forward to how much more change it will catalyze over the next year.
Dave and his peers are driving Conexus to advance Growth & Opportunity in Summit County. With their continued leadership, Conexus will also help me better answer that persistent question about what can we do to make sure companies have the talent they need to succeed—and job seekers get connected to promising careers; outcomes that benefit us all.