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We’re Only As Strong As The Community We Build Together. And That Includes Its Workforce. 


Last Thursday, September 16th, the MFG Strong Workforce Summit brought together just under 150 manufacturers and community leaders from Southwest Ohio to focus on employee recruitment and retention strategies, technology-infused workforce initiatives, and workforce development programming and more.  



The full-day, multi-track event was held at the Duke Energy Convention Center and included breakfast, lunch, informative and action-focused breakout sessions delivered by regional and state partners, an internationally recognized keynote speaker Ryan Jenkins who helps companies prepare for the future workforce, and an educational panel discussion focused on how institutions are overcoming the talent gap in manufacturing.  Attendees left with new community partnerships, action-rich content they can implement immediately, and a stronger sense of resources they can activate to resolve current workforce issues. 

Kelly Kolar, Founder and President of Kolar Designs, kicked off MFG Strong with insightful statistics on how companies are adapting to the new hybrid workplace and what we can expect to see in the next few years. Ryan Jenkins, CSP, lead a powerful keynote presentation on overcoming generational dynamics in the workplace. Sean Kelley, President of AMIP provided an event recap and closing remarks were given by Traci Spencer, the Grant Program Manager at TechSolve.   

Thank you to all those in attendance, who participated in the inaugural MFG Strong Summit! Never before has our community come together at this scale to address such a critical issue for our Southwest Ohio manufacturers. TechSolve will continue the momentum and the conversation with smaller workforce events throughout the year, and of course we look forward to an even bigger and better MFG Strong Summit next year!   

Key Takeaways from MFG Strong 2021 


1. Technology Is Redefining Access to The Next Manufacturing Workforce, Not Just the Industry

Manufacturing isn’t a stranger to new, innovative technology.  In fact, our industry often pioneers the necessity to innovate. But what happens when technology begins to redefine our recruitment and retention strategies, and challenges tried and true training methodologies? So too does the need to innovate how our industry approaches attracting talent, recruiting top prospects, and retaining a well-trained employee base. The summit discussed successful strategies that manufacturers can implement to build a more loyal and committed workforce across generations.     

2. Southwest Ohio Manufacturers Are Not Alone When It Comes To Workforce Development Needs and Solutions  

For many manufacturers, the pursuit to find the right combination of workforce solutions feels overwhelming because there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Accessing the right solutions and aligning programming with the custom needs of a manufacturer is intensely hands-on, but there are resources in our community that help manufacturers fill these gaps. There is a rich resource bank of programming and funding through the state and federal levels, and locally, that help our Southwest Ohio manufacturers with recruitment, retention, and talent development strategies.  

MFG Strong exposed manufacturers to previously unconsidered or unknown resources that are imperative to overcoming the workforce development issues faced by our community.  

3. Educational Institutions Play an Integral Role in Developing The Future of the Manufacturing Workforce. But This Is A Two-Way Conversation. 

The leading regional educational institutions were seated together in a room with manufacturers for a two-way dialogue during an afternoon panel. Manufacturers welcomed the format to learn what educational institutions are planning for the future, and appreciated the opportunity to speak candidly about their needs and to have their voice heard. This is a critical conversation that requires continued discussion. Educational courses cannot be developed in a silo. It’s important for manufacturers to continue to come forward with their needs, and also be open to the new technological advancements and skills our next generation will need to be equipped with to make work efficient, safe, and meaningful. 

4. As The Conditions of Employment Continues to Change In Manufacturing, So Does the Make-Up Of Its Workforce  

Skills and staffing gaps are felt by every manufacturer in our region. MFG Strong addressed alternative talent pools, and retention and training strategies available for obtaining the next generation of manufacturers. It also illustrated that the old ways of working are becoming obsolete and that more flexibility in the workplace will be the new normal.

Angel Beets, Co-Managing Partner at Gilman Partners  

“I’ve been really impressed with MFG Strong today. The event itself exceeded my expectations from a content perspective and from the perspective of the attendees that are here today. It’s been a great mix of the backgrounds of the attendees, whether it is the manufacturers themselves, the service providers offering workforce resources, or the educators who are training the future workforce. We’re very excited to continue to partner with TechSolve and attend the next MFG Strong Summit.” 

Scott Ryan, Deputy Chief of Office of Technology Investments with responsibility for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Ohio Third Frontier 

“What a fantastic day. It’s been wonderful to see small, medium, and large-sized businesses come together to collaborate and learn from the presenters and one another.  

Workforce development is one of the largest challenges that the entire state is facing.  Understanding the available workforce, how they are motivated, and how to get the most productivity, is a changing dynamic that has been a big topic of today. It’s been very helpful for our manufacturers to see a new perspective. 2021 is very different than many of us grew up in, and that’s okay. We need to adapt, and do what we need to do to be successful and a lot of those tools are available at MFG Strong.”  

MFG Strong 2021 Speakers 

  • Ryan Jenkins, CSP Keynote Speaker 
  • Kelly Kolar, Founder and President of Kolar Design, Inc.  
  • Angel Beets, Co-Managing Partner at Gilman Partners  
  • Erin Young, HR Consultant at VonLehman 
  • Amanda Mosteller, Director of Learning and Development at ERA
  • Ron Pieper, Customer Support Manager at Juxtum 
  • Glenn Richardson, Managing Director, Advanced Manufacturing and Aerospace at JobsOhio 
  • Brian Carovillano, Director, Virtual Interactive Solutions Group at Kinetic Vision 
  • Traci Spencer, Grant Program Manager at TechSolve  
  • Amanda Cannell, CEO at Ohio Drone
  • Abria Drummonds, Employment Services Supervisor at Ohio Means Jobs  
  • Matt Mooney, Vice President at Cincinnati Works 
  • Vickie McMullen, Client Relations Manager at TechSolve  
  • Scott Ellsworth, Owner at Scott Ellsworth Consulting 
  • Kimberly Gates, Assistant Secretary Director at Warren County Career Center  
  • Cristóbal Jiménez, Master Trainer at Festo Didactic 
Ryan Jenkins, CSP Keynote Speaker

Ryan Jenkins, CSP Keynote Speaker

MFG Strong 2021 Educational Panelists

  • Amy Waldbilling, Vice President of Workforce Development at Cincinnati State 
  • Jon Graft, CEO and Superintendent at Butler Tech
  • Michael Burck, Supervisor Adult Workforce Development at Great Oaks
  • Anthony Ponder, Dean of Science, Mathematics and Engineering at Sinclair Community College
  • Muhamad Jahan, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director at Miami University

2021 Manufacturers Compensation Survey 

ERA and TechSolve have joined forces to deliver a survey for manufacturers to identify the issues related to compensation, hiring and talent development, employee engagement, and benefits and rewards, in an attempt to help manufacturers, and improve their ability to attract and retain talent. Please take a few minutes to complete the survey via the link below.


We will share the results in a follow-on webinar Wednesday, November 17th 


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