The nation’s first Interstate Region that encompasses Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio and Lawrence and Mercer counties in Pennsylvania, was officially designated by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell in February 2009.
The five counties share a common workforce, current and emerging industries, worker dislocations and a common vision to accelerate economic and workforce development. The counties are dominated by manufacturing, have an aging population and a median household income below not only the national median but also Pennsylvania’s and Ohio’s. While many within the five-county area commute to work, only 12 percent commute outside the area for employment.
Embracing the concept of the whole being stronger than the sum of its parts, the groundbreaking interstate collaboration of workforce development and economic development along with education, creates a powerful force for the betterment of the area and its citizens. Specifically the collaborative effort seeks to attract and keep businesses, serve the workforce and in general advance the region’s economy.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to integrate and coordinate workforce and economic development activities within the Region, 150 area leaders came together in April 2009 for the Oh-Penn Interstate Region Summit. The Summit provided the platform for the development of a strategic plan that establishes outcomes and action steps for all workforce development, economic development, and education partners in the region.
Currently Ohio and Pennsylvania leaders are meeting begin implemtentation of the strategic plan.
In September 2009, the first Oh-Penn Interstate Region Job Expo was held. The project was the collaborative effort of the One-Stop Workforce Systems of Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana Counties and PA CareerLink® of Mercer and Lawrence Counties. Nearly 5,000 job seekers, 65 employers and 29 training providers participated. The second regional Job Expo is scheduled for September 15, 2010. Additional joint workforce development projects are anticipated.