Local foundation aligns public and private stakeholders to jumpstart an Ohio county

Located between Cleveland and Columbus, Richland County, Ohio has a total population of just over 120,000. More than a third of the population lives in the county seat of Mansfield, a former industrial powerhouse surrounded by small communities with good schools, safe streets and a low cost of living.

Like many other rural regions has struggled to deal with two decades of vanishing jobs and general economic decline. To turn this trend around, the Richland County Foundation (RCF), a respected community voice with seven decades of history, decided to take action and enlist JumpStart to assess the region’s current economic state as well as help align community leaders around a set of strategic recommendations to help drive economic growth and create jobs.

Through JumpStart’s proprietary “regional assessment” process, the team identified the region’s current challenges and shared a strategic, results-driven plan to overcome those challenges.

To make sure this plan was executed collaboratively and effectively, JumpStart executed the “regional alignment” process, which allowed Richland County’s local private, public, and philanthropic leaders to align on the current challenges they face and the tangible next steps the region needs to take to spur future growth and innovation.

Today, Richland County is making headway on the tangible initiatives laid out in the plan and the increased community alignment has already led to a new private-public partnership designed to fund and administer expanded workforce development efforts.

Stakeholders emerged from this alignment process reenergized and united around a set of collective recommendations, including:

  • New resources to modernize and spearhead business retention/expansion/attraction efforts;
  • A new program to assist existing high-potential, revenue-positive companies that are capable of aggressive growth/hiring, but have hit a plateau with respect to capital, sales or talent acquisition.;
  • A public-private partnership to help train local talent, then connect that talent with regional businesses who are struggling to find qualified employees;
  • The development of a customized economic performance dashboard to track baseline data and measure progress over time.

Note from Storm: My thanks to Hrishue Mahalaha of Jumstart for pointing out this story for REVITALIZATION. Regarding the timeline of this work, he explains, “We kicked off the project in January of 2015, and are currently in the third phase. Phase 1 was strategy and planning, Phase 2 was pilot and refine, and Phase 3 being a full scale rollout.

See full report (PDF) with outcomes.

See Jumpstart article, 3-minute video, & photo credit.

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