Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics event

Bowling Green State University, Owens Community College and the University of Findlay are partnering to establish the Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics. Presidents Fell, Rogers and Somerville will sign the Center’s memorandum of understanding, which connects education to respond to industry needs and meet workforce demands.

FINDLAY — Three Northwest Ohio higher education institutions are partnering to provide local manufacturers with a trained workforce.

Dione Somerville, president of Owens Community College, called Friday’s agreement between Owens, Bowling Green State University and the University of Findlay an “historic announcement.”

The three institutions have partnered to create a Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics.

The center will be located on Owens’ Findlay campus, where a press conference to announce the partnership was held.

An opening date has not been determined as the colleges work to develop the courses that are being requested by manufacturers and students, Somerville said.

The center will be overseen by representatives from the three schools and will work with area employers to identify their immediate and long-term needs in workforce training, automation, systems integration and supply chain management.

The center also will serve as a centralized resource where the business community can bring specific workforce needs for customized training solutions.

This collaboration will give students an unprecedented range of opportunities for certificates to associate, bachelor and post-graduate degrees, Somerville said.

The training programs will be offered in Perrysburg, Bowling Green and Findlay.

Co-op, internships and employer matching also will be made available, Somerville said.

In Ohio, the size of the labor force has fallen and demand for skilled workers has increased, she said. In this region in the last five years, 8,800 new jobs in the advanced manufacturing sector have been created, she said.

“It is our responsibility and our privilege to meet our community’s needs in this regard, ensuring that students graduate with the credentials they need for good local jobs and ensuring that employers have a strong candidate pool to draw from,” she said.

This partnership will position Northwest Ohio as a regional magnet for employers and employees.

“Our region needs a workforce with broad skillsets … and together our three institutions can deliver that,” Somerville said.

Owens Board of Trustees President MaryBeth Hammond said the partnership will make them the educational leaders for these high-tech jobs that are everywhere. It will increase enrollment and give students the skill sets they need to do the jobs that are available.

BGSU President Rodney Rogers said the three institutions are committed to making sure they are connecting education to workforce needs.

Northwest Ohio is home to major global businesses, he said.

Wood County companies in the center’s focus are FedEx, UPS, Amazon, First Solar, Peloton and CSX.

This center is a two-way channel between manufacturing and industry and higher educational institutions.

“This collaboration allows us to continue to grow our academic programs in manufacturing and logistics and build on our degree programs in robotics and quality systems engineering,” Rogers said after the program.

This becomes a resource for companies not only here in Hancock County but Wood, Lucas and Hardin counties, he said.

Gov. Mike DeWine recently visited BGSU’s robotics department.

“We wanted him to know that in Northwest Ohio we are working together to build and support this important sector of our economy,” Rogers said.

“Our goal is to create a world-class network of educational opportunities around manufacturing, logistics and innovation robotics,” Rogers said. “I cannot wait to see what we accomplish together.”

Former Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik, who is now director of the Ohio Department of Development, said manufacturing jobs employ more than 650,000 Ohioans.

“In order to compete domestically and globally and be able to meet the needs of the private sector, we have to do collaborations like this,” she said. “We know that the things we are investing in now may not necessarily pay off right this moment. They’re going to be paying off years from now.”

Katherine Fell, president at the University of Findlay, said this partnership begins a new collaboration between three institutions embedded in and committed to serving the needs of businesses in Northwest Ohio and beyond.

Business leaders can bring to the planning table their workforce training needs, she said.

“That is a powerful opportunity,” she said. “Working together we will make each of our campuses stronger. Our students, their families and our region will be the beneficiaries.”

The Findlay formula is based on business and industry, government and education working together, said Tim Mayle, director of Findlay Hancock County Economic Development.

He said he talked to his area companies, including Whirlpool, Ohio Logistics Warehousing and Transportation, GSW Manufacturing and Valfilm, about the disruptive changes they are seeing.

“We want this to be a magnet,” Mayle said about the partnership. “There are very few regions that can pull off a collaboration between a four-year public school, a four-year private and a two-year public.

“That collaboration working together is going to open a lot of doors,” he said.

State Rep. Jon Cross said it took some money to bring this partnership to fruition, stating “if you’re going to play the game, you have to be in the game.”

Cross represents Northwest Ohio’s 83rd District, which includes Hancock, Hardin and a portion of Logan counties.

As chairman of the higher education subcommittee on finance, he was able to garner $2 million in state funds for the project.

“This is a celebration of what we can do together,” said Randy Gardner, chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

“It’s a great idea … but it’s not easy,” he said.

If not for the leadership of Cross, this likely would not have achieved state support. There are few partnerships like this around the state, Gardner said.

“Higher education needs to be directly engaged with what matters to communities and employers. I think this is a strong signal that these three institutions understand that relevance to the workforce,” he said after the program.

The number of high school graduates is expected to decrease in Ohio for the next decade, Gardner said.

Retaining high school graduates, attracting new talent and forming business partnerships are the three things that he thinks are important.