By: James Pruitt
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
Fulton County employers need workers and once local agency is working hard to draw alumni back to the area to fill those opening.
Known as Operation Boomerang, the effort has an intern go through high school yearbooks from 2010-15 and track down graduates and see what their situation is. The program came up during a presentation by Executive Director Matt Gilroy at the June 28 County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The work of wading through the yearbooks of all the county’s high schools is being accomplished by 18-year-old Wauseon High School graduate Mia Wegner. She finds the graduates on social media (Facebook and LinkedIn) and reaches out to them to find out what they are doing and where they are living.
The work includes creating a database of names and skills to see if they can be matched with local employer needs, Gilroy said.
A lot of graduates are either veterans or on active duty. They live elsewhere because of their service, Gilroy said. Those types are highly desired in the manufacturing community, he said.
“They love veterans, their work ethic, the skill sets they provide,” Gilroy said.
Wegner said she has found there are a lot of business majors in the area who are attending the University of Toledo. There are also a lot of engineering majors who have located outside of Fulton county.
The majority (about 70 percent) of local students who went on to college or have graduated are still in Ohio, Wegner said.
“A majority of students who have graduated from 2010 until now are still holding jobs at places like Menards,” Wegner said.
The need is great as there are six potential expansion projects that could close by the end of the year totaling $30 million in investments and adding 20-30 new jobs.
Nature Fresh is completing its third 15-acre greenhouse. The company now employs 55 people, but the company has shared concerns about workforce availability.
“They shared during our tour (held June 7) that 40 percent of the people they are interested in hiring failed a drug test,” Gilroy said.
Toledo Edison is ready to power a substation, which the company is planning to have built by September.
There are also five retail projects brewing the agency is working with municipalities to see come to fruition.
The agency could someday offer incentives such as reduced rates on new cars or new homes, Gilroy said.
Instead of having companies hire recruiters, the agency could get people with local connections to move back and increase the level of ownership, which will help them stay longer, he said.
Among other highlights:
The FCEDC now has more than 100 members.
The agency is going to be expanding its use of social media over billboards to draw traffic to its website.
The Member Committee is working on creating marketing strategies around WorkInFultonCounty.com
The Wauseon Industrial Park is in the Top 20 of the Ohio Sites Program. Officials are planning a September visit. The agency is now seeking bids to complete environmental and archaeological surveys, wetlands determinations, wildlife studies and boundary surveys.
James Pruitt may be reached at