Elyria Foundry Company LLC, 120 Filbert St., Elyria
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ELYRIA — The city and community partners are aiming to reduce Elyria’s 22.2 percent poverty rate with a new pilot program to help residents gain better access to manufacturing jobs.
Elyria Works Now is a collaboration of Elyria city government, education, nonprofit, for-profit and faith-based community leaders partnering with local industry, according to a release from Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda.
Brinda said the program aims to reduce the city’s poverty rate but also would help Elyria manufacturers find workers to fill the entry-level positions. The mayor said in a recent survey, 16 of 18 companies in the city reported having difficulty filling both entry-level and more skilled positions.
The jobs would give residents a way to get living-wage jobs with benefits, Brinda said. The mayor said she believed many of the jobs would pay about $15 an hour.
“Elyria Works Now will accomplish this by providing participants with free connectivity, support, education, training and access to employers who have committed to hiring goals, ‘screen in’ and family-friendly policies and working with community partners to remove barriers to employment and provide wrap-around services that respond to participants and their individualized career plans,” Brinda said.
The Elyria Works Now training program would last three weeks. The first week would teach job readiness skills — such as career planning, time management and financial literacy and review things like reading, writing, math and communication. The second week would teach manufacturing and shop safety awareness and application; there also would be mock job interviews.
The third week would provide training to develop a resume, cover letter and thank you letter and offer practice interviewing with employers. At the conclusion of the program, the participants would get real job interviews with employers.
Participants also will be assigned a career coach to assist them.
“They’re not guaranteed a job, but if they go through the program and demonstrate commitment and proficiency, it’s likely they’ll be offered one,” Brinda said.
Four employers in the city have agreed to hire employees through the pilot program: Dura-line, Elyria Foundry, Multilink and United Initiators. Brinda said the companies have a goal of hiring 100 employees by the end of the year as part of the pilot program.
Two information sessions for Elyria Works Now are scheduled for next month. The first will be 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Elyria City Hall, 131 Court St., and the other will be 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Lorain County Urban League, 200 Middle Ave., Suite 200.
The program has been in the works for some time.
In 2017, Brinda asked representatives from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s foundation, the Bloomberg Foundation of New York, to come into Elyria and help facilitate planning sessions with community leaders to help identify solutions to the problems the city faced. The city also applied for $1.25 million in funding, which it did not receive.
Brinda said the competition for the grants through the foundation were very competitive, with about 500 applicants vying for about 30 funding grants. The mayor said the city has scaled back the program and is using about $125,000 from Issue 6 funds. Brinda said the program is viewed as an economic development solution.
“If Elyria can get 1,100 more working adults making a living wage, the city will collect an additional $990,000 annually in income taxes, thus better supporting needed city services,” she said.
Brinda said there are several reasons why manufacturing companies in the city are having a hard time filling job openings.
“Previous years of employment declines and layoffs have taken a toll on public confidence and have created a false perception in the Elyria community that there are no jobs in manufacturing. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Brinda said. “The American dream and the manufacturing sector are alive and well in Elyria and many of our employers are looking to fill entry-level jobs.”
The problem filling manufacturing jobs isn’t just an issue in Elyria, Brinda said. She said it’s also prevalent across the county, state and nation.
One reason for this, according to Brinda, is they are “most often incorrectly” portrayed as low-paying, dull jobs without opportunities for growth. Others have lost jobs in other industries and need help identifying job opportunities.
Many of the training programs in place address specific advanced manufacturing training needs in companies, but they aren’t designed to help companies create a pipeline that often starts with less-educated, entry-level prospects, according to Brinda.
“Not everybody can or wants to go to college and for many of these entry-level manufacturing jobs, you can gain entry into good companies without a college education,” Brinda said. “That’s not to say we are discouraging Elyrians from pursing higher education; in fact, we are working with our pilot industries and Lorain County Community College and Lorain County (Joint Vocational School) to create ladder opportunities for those Elyria Works Now participants who want to pursue opportunities for advancement.”