Area job website ‘connecting the dots’

Economic development directors in two counties touted a new website designed to match employment opportunities with the skilled labor force for those jobs.

Mercer County Economic Development Director Jared Ebbing and Wapakoneta Area Economic Development Council Executive Director Greg Myers explained the new website they spearheaded to “connect the dots” of local workers, or workers with local ties, with area companies.

“There is a lot of opportunity in this area and there are those who don’t know about it and those are the ones we are trying to connect with, to connect the dots,” Ebbing said prior to his presentation to approximately 30 business people on the benefits of the website. “It helps those in the area and there are a lot of people who want to come back to the area and they are not aware of all the opportunities.

“By launching this website we are increasing the awareness of all these opportunities at the great companies we have in this region, Auglaize and Mercer counties, and the jobs they need filled right now,” he said.

Since the website was activated at the end of November, more than 350 jobs have been posted by area companies and 2,200 people have subscribed to receive weekly employment updates through their email.

“My mission here today is to help spread the word so we can develop a larger audience and we can build more content,” Ebbing said. “Right now, we have contacted about 30 percent of the companies in the two counties so there are a lot more companies we can contact.”

The email blasts from the website helps job seekers learn about and find the jobs in their fields of interest.

“This is just a job listings website from our local companies, for our local people and does the hard work for the people and the companies,” Ebbing said. “You only have to sign up once and our local companies will find you.”

Myers said this is important as many jobs are posted despite Mercer County having a 4.6 unemployment rate, lowest in the state, and Auglaize County having a 5.4 unemployment rate, fourth lowest in the state.

Ebbing also often discusses the available jobs in the region with high school seniors. Economic development directors and business owners have long attempted to stop the “brain drain” from the region. Ebbing said he wants them to be aware of the job opportunities here.

Ebbing explained schools have postings regarding colleges and military opportunities, but they seldom have postings regarding the job opportunities in the region and the skills needed to fill those positions.

He said companies in the region continue to advertise the positions they have in local newspapers so they are not trying to compete with the more traditional ways of filling positions. He hopes the website complements the newspapers listings so more people can return to the area which increases readership because newspapers and other media are vital to the region.

At present, Ebbing said he does not want to bill the companies so personnel costs to update the website are being paid by Mercer County.

Ebbing and Myers are now looking at ways to offer even more through Hometown Opportunity and looking for funding to support them in that endeavor, largely with $100,000 in funding for the creation of an outreach coordinator position.

The cost could be shared between both counties and local companies.

They met with the Auglaize County commissioners in March about the website and creating the new position. The position would update the website as well as to meet with students at area high schools and owners of area businesses.

The Auglaize County commissioners have not made a formal decision on the initiative.