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Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership to Receive up to $930,000 from Federal ARP Funds’ “Good Jobs Challenge” Program

Wednesday, 3 August, 2022 Written by Leah Epstein

Workforce Connect’s funds are part of a $23.5 million grant awarded to the Ohio Manufacturers Association for a three-year workforce development action plan focused on recruiting and upskilling manufacturing workers across the state.

Cleveland, Ohio (August 3, 2022) – Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership, co-led by MAGNET and Greater Cleveland Partnership, is slated to receive up to $930,000 over the next three years as part of The Ohio Manufacturers Association’s (OMA) $23,492,808 award from the Economic Development Administration’s American Rescue Plan Act Good Jobs Challenge program, which was announced today.

OMA is the lead applicant and system lead entity of one of 32 programs throughout the country to receive a portion of $500 million in federal funds aimed at getting Americans back to work by strengthening workforce partnerships that lead to good-paying jobs.

Workforce Connect is among OMA’s network of manufacturing industry sector partnerships throughout the state that will receive funding from this grant to carry out specific recruiting and upskilling components of OMA’s workforce development action plan in Cuyahoga County. The funding will support the expansion of MAGNET’s ACCESS to Manufacturing Careers 4-week employer-designed training program that combines technical and job readiness skills. Cohorts to-date have focused on individuals returning from the criminal justice system and young adults (ages 18-24). This funding will allow for the expansion to new audiences such as veterans and immigrants. Program graduates receive an industry-recognized credential and guaranteed interviews with local manufacturers.

“With more than 3,000 open manufacturing jobs in Cuyahoga County alone, engaging new and diverse populations in our highly successful ACCESS program will help the Workforce Connect team prepare more people for well-paying careers in manufacturing,” said Ethan Karp, President and CEO of MAGNET. “We’ve spent the last two years iterating on the program and we’re ready to significantly scale thanks to this funding and other recently allocated dollars from Cuyahoga County, the Workforce Funders Group, and other supporters.”

50,000+ annual job openings over next 36 months
More than 1,600 manufacturers comprise OMA’s statewide ISP network, including 120 that submitted letters of commitment to source new hires from this initiative. In total, these employers indicated a demand for 25,000+ hires in the next five years at an average wage of $17.60/hour, which reflects the prevailing wages for the initiative’s targeted in-demand occupations of machining, production, welding, industrial maintenance, and automation and robotics.

In total, these targeted occupations are projected to have 50,000+ annual openings and 150,000 openings in the next 36 months in Ohio.

Targeting underrepresented populations across Ohio’s communities
OMA’s initiative prioritizes Ohio’s 32 Appalachian communities, the eight largest urban counties, and underrepresented groups among the manufacturing workforce including people of color, women, veterans and returning citizens.

“We project 1,000 Ohio employers to engage in hiring, retaining or advancing a participant served by this initiative,” said Ryan Augsburger, OMA president. “Our goal is to enroll 6,000 participants across the state in one or more training programs that leads to a job offer or upskilling opportunity at their incumbent employer. Added emphasis will be on reaching job seekers from underrepresented members of our communities.”

In response to regional needs and the needs of the target populations, the ISPs will be led to execute an OMA-developed, evidence-based Entry-Level Learn-and Earn (ELLE) model to prepare a future workforce. The strategy, which gives employers the opportunity to build a workforce trained to their specific needs, includes recruiting, pre-screening, preparing job skills training, onboarding, and ongoing support and job coaching components.

“Ultimately, the Good Jobs Challenge grant will lay the groundwork for exponential, ongoing impacts beyond the 36-month grant period by operationalizing sustainable new training programs, formalizing referral partnerships, accelerating ISPs’ momentum and building underrepresented communities’ interest in manufacturing careers,” Augsburger said.

Learn about the RFP process here

About MAGNET & Workforce Connect
The mission of MAGNET is to play a vital role in growing the manufacturing sector in Northeast Ohio, thereby creating more vibrant communities, increasing economic inclusion, and building a stronger middle class in our region. Since 1984, MAGNET has offered a wide range of hands-on consulting services to manufacturers as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and Ohio MEP. These services, which include product and process development, workforce initiatives, start-up support, technology implementation, and lean/operations consulting, help companies grow locally and compete globally. As manufacturers grow, they need to hire, train, and retain diverse employees; build relationships with other companies and organizations to address systemic issues; pioneer new products and services; and maximize use of smart technologies. Learn more at
Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership, with MAGNET and Greater Cleveland Partnership serving as co-intermediaries, is a manufacturer-driven initiative to connect more workers to well-paying career paths and help employers find the skilled talent they need. Over the last three years, the sector partnership has supported the placement of more than 500 workers into manufacturing positions. Learn more at

About Ohio Manufacturers’ Association
The Ohio Manufacturers' Association is Ohio's largest statewide business association comprised solely of manufacturers. Established in 1910, the OMA's mission is protect and grow Ohio manufacturing. It represents manufacturers of all sizes in every subsector of the industry. Manufacturing is Ohio’s largest economic sector, employing approximately 675,000 Ohioans and contributing more than $127 billion annually to the economy. Visit, or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.


Leah Epstein
Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership/MAGNET

Sara Tracey
Ohio Manufacturers Association 

Categories: Workforce, Talent Pipeline, Grants and Partnerships, Education & Workforce Professionals