Author: advance759

Posted in Workforce & Education

African-American Academic Achievement


“Education, the Key to Prosperity.”

When are, we, as a people, going to start working with our youth to eliminate the lies that are fed to them by the media that prevent them from achieving to their fullest potential? When are we, going to stand up and fight the idea, pervasive in our youth, that if you are excelling in school, in advanced classes and dominating (academically) you classmates, you are “acting white”. This idea is absurd! Throughout history, we have pushed education when it was forbidden upon pain of death! Even during Jim Crow, we created over 150 colleges to serves our children when the mainstream ones refused to let us in. When mainstream businesses refused our money, we became entrepreneurs and set up thriving districts such as Little Hayti in Durham, North Carolina and Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This all happened, because we educated ourselves, either formally or informally!!

Now, after our people fought to open doors to the mainstream of American intellectual life, a thief come in the night to steal the victory and perseverance from our kids; the idea that academic excellence is “acting white”, our ridicule of our brothers and sisters who strive for educational and professional excellence. As they go forward in their academic accomplishments, we have Black idiots taunting them with the label “acting white.” Do not confuse professionalism or academic excellence with “acting white.” One has nothing in the world to do with the other. In fact, those Black folks who do not encourage nor support their fellow Black students or Black businesses are actually the ones “acting white.” They also act white when they do not sound their objections or defend against other races that denigrate their Black brothers and sisters, or when they mistreat their own Black people with the same lies, injustice and incorrectness as white supremacist do. Those who are accusing other of “Acting white,” are simply being niggerish, or, put a better way “stupid”, themselves!

I issue a challenge to everyone! Check you state’s, your individual district’s, your child’s school’s status on proficiency tests. You will see a great gap in the performance of black and white students. Check the ACT, SAT, AP, and other tests. With affirmative action about to go off into history and the standards rising, we must reaffirm our intellectual tradition. Start reading (newspaper, books, magazines, etc., use the public library, etc.). As a special treat, give your kids gifts certificates for bookstores. Take your children to museums, galleries, parks, etc. We must challenge the idea promulgated through BET and throughout history that all we do is play sports and rap!!

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 Or, you can email me at [email protected]

‹ Transplanted | Adult Education ›


# Submitted by Kimberly (not verified) on Tue, 08/14/2007 – 10:40.

I agree with your comments and share your passion on this topic. As a product of public education in the CIty of Cleveland and Cleveland Heights in the 70’s and 80’s I was lucky to have had parents who were actively involved in my education and making sure that I succeeded and excelled. Many of my peers during that time experienced the same support. However, times have changed and social ills, such as poverty, crime, a lack of community cohesiveness in the black community, as well as other social problems, have contributed to black students lack of achivement. I am appalled at the fact that it has taken the govenor of the state of Ohio to shed light on this tragedy. Black parents, community leaders, educators and the church should have addressed this issue years ago – if they had, our black children would not be in the state it is in today. We need a mass community effort where at least 25% of the black residents in NE Ohio commit themselves to becoming volunteer teachers, counselors, mentors, and surrogate parents to black children on a full time basis. Whatever they don’t receive in school, the community will provide afterschool and on the weekends. We don’t need legislation or goverment approval to provide to our children what they lack. We don’t need grants and funding streams to provide this. We already have the resources – most of us are working, have homes or rent apartments, buy cars, clothes, food and spend money on entertainment, not to mention tithing 10% to the church. if we took even 1%-5% of what we normally spend on ourselves and spend it on a child, we would be able to overcome major hurdles.

We need a massive, long-term black movement in Ohio. It’s long overdue and it’s greatly needed. If it doesn’t happen now, the black race will be nearly obsolete by the end of this century.

Posted in Workforce & Education



I just returned from a week-long trip to California, where my friend Mike resides with his uncle in a beautiful home overlooking the Los Angeles Bay. We took a 3-day trip to San Fransisco, and spent most of our time being tourists. All details of my touristy adventures aside, Mike and I went out for drinks with my friend Justin and his wife Claudia, who recently relocated to SF from where-else but Cleveland. Justin (OB-GYN) and Claudia (Dermatology) are both graduates of Case’s Medical School, where they met and eventually got married. We met up in the Mission District, an area low on the socio-economic scale, but high on diverse nightlife options – reminded me of Tremont in many ways. We got our drinks and sat down at a table. The assault on Cleveland began:

Justin: “God, I am so glad to be out of Cleveland. Isn’t SF great?!”
Me: “Yeah, it’s a cool city. It’d be better if there wasn’t a beggar on every corner. Claudia, you’re from here aren’t you?”
Claudia nods.
Mike: “You’re from SF? Why the hell did you go to medical school in Cleveland?!”
Claudia: “I don’t know, it was a huge mistake. I graduated from Stanford and applied to schools all over the country. Case had a great reputation and when I visited, everyone there told me how great it was. It was the worst five years of my life.”
Me: “Hmm . . . what was so bad about it?”
Claudia: “Oh come on, you live there, you should know. The weather is terrible, there’s no sun for 7 months of the year. And the people! Could they be any more negative? SF isn’t perfect, but at least people love living here.”
Me: “Yeah, the weather does suck. I guess I never really bought into what people say though.”
Justin: “What do you mean? Everyone in Cleveland hates Cleveland. I met a few cool people that actually liked it there, but for the most part, everyone hates it.”
Me: “I don’t pay attention to everyone.”
Justin: “Well, good luck to you trying to change that place.”
Me: “Thanks. Let’s get another beer.”

Conversations like this always leave me feeling like some sort of martyr. While “everyone” seems to be running away from the fire, I look for the challenge of jumping right in the middle of it. For every closed down factory, I see an opportunity for a new industry. For every reactionary bureaucrat, I see a progressive visionary independent. For every dreary gray day in winter, I see the glorious days of a Cleveland summer. For every Browns loss, I see a Cavs win. My brand of idealism is ironic, given that most people who meet me think I’m cynical and pessimistic. But the truth is, I get frustrated by “everyone’s” inability to look past the misfortunes of Cleveland’s economic downturn and not focus their time and attention on its inevitable revitalization. I’m not a martyr – I’m a transplant who refuses to reject the unhealthy system.


Hi-five on your trip to CA….. Born and raised in Cleveland, I left for college and career and returned a few years ago to take care of family. I have similar conversations from friends when I visit friends on the East Coast. They wonder when I’m going to get my life/career back on track and return to a real city with real movers & shakers. I understand your martyr comment, but hold the faith — water is on the way….

Yes, I returned to Cleveland after living in sunny, Phoenix AZ. ( Read brown, dry,hot, cold). I went to live a “working life-to retire later” near my daughter and grandson. In three months I was planning to return. I lasted 18 months there. I was the lone car on the road driving back to Cleveland two years ago this week! ( My doctor said that three arrive in Phoenix, and two leave!!)

Born and raised a “Northeasterner” from Pa, and then Cleveland area….I was stunned at what we had that I missed, not available in Arizona. Of course with having 5 grown children living East of the Mississippi, there was a draw to move Eastward, but not the primary motivator. You know that we have the Lake, the outstanding Art Museum, the Cleveland Orchestra/Severance Hall,Parade the Circle, The impressive remodeled Theatre Complex, , University Circle/education ,art, music schools, Historical Society, etc, etc, and most of all we have the Emerald Necklace, which I missed the most.

How could we not be the MOST outstanding city in the minds of the world.????Marketing, I believe. We bought the pictures of the retired golpher and his wife in the sunshine, the retired couple on the beach, or boat…..hook line and sinker!

I am glad I came back…the snow is exciting and beautiful and I missed it. The summer was beyond extraordinary ! Yes, we have some gloom in winter. Likewise Phoenix has a terrible summer esp in August with monsoons, humidity, etc. Everyone leaves town for the mountains.! Bet you don’ know that !!
I believe that residents here ARE somewhat sad, depressed aand negative. I believe its the fall out of being from heavily European descendants whose culture has never been happy…..think about it ( ( Phoenix is 60 % Mexican immigrants and they are very happy people)
So we need to “Lighten Up ” ,create upbeat marketing , and plaster it all over National Magazines. Maybe our gloomy residents will actually start to believe it!!!
PS. IT was HARD to return. Employers don’t think about hiring person s from “out of town”and expect you to show up in their office for an interview. The Apartment complex’s here don’t like dogs. ( unike Chicago, Phoenix, NY.), so I almost quite in the search for living quarters….frustrating. In fact, I rent a house, just to keep the dog! That is all “small town” stuff I believe and does not help one to relocate. So we can use some “smart tuning” as a city!
Thanks for listening!

# Submitted by cthompson on Thu, 01/03/2008 - 11:46.

Welcome Home.
And hopefully someone who likes dogs will welcome you into their building.

Posted in Workforce & Education

The times . . . they are a changin’?


For many years, our region has expressed its concern for a serious “Brain Drain” issue. How do we keep the tens of thousands of our regional university students here upon graduation? How do we formulate a new economy without a properly educated workforce? How do we create an attractive atmosphere where young people can live, work and play? The questions never seem to have clear answers, and the Brain Drain issue waxes and wanes in the light of other regional problems, but today’s article in the Plain Dealer sheds some light on a new way of thinking.

PD report Molly Kavanaugh writes: “Andy Winemiller walked into City Hall last month as a college intern earning $7.50 an hour in Mayor John Romoser’s office. This week, the 21-year-old political science major became the city’s $7,500-a-month service and safety director, a job that has him overseeing one of the region’s more troubled police departments as well as the plowing of city streets.”

Heads are spinning. How can a 21-year-old possibly take on this position? He has no previous city street plowing experience! All joking aside, Mayor Romoser has the right idea. Take a young, ambitious student and give him an opportunity he probably couldn’t find anywhere else.

While the newly-elected Mayor Tony Krasienko said that “having a young, inexperienced safety/service director is just one of many worries he has about his new job” and that he is “looking for someone with government or business experience to take the job in January” he seems to miss the point that given all the problems in this region, the track-record does not prove itself worthy of much consideration. How can we look to the past of NEO as a way of figuring out what to do with its future? Instead, he (and other regional leaders) should focus on acquainting Andy with the problems in his community and give him the chance to explore ways to fix them; surround him with knowledgeable experts that can help him make intelligent decisions. Pave the way for the new generation of leaders instead of shutting the door on a bright future.

Three big hurrahs to Mayor John Romoser! May more follow in your risky visionary footsteps.

‹ statewide STEM education system in northeast Ohio Transplanted ›


# Submitted by Arnold L. Johnson (not verified) on Sun, 03/16/2008 – 16:45.

Seems we place too much emphasis on leadership and expertise which has translated into has all the answers and makes all the right moves. While it would be nice to have it all in one person, the likelihood of that happening is near zilch. Leaders must rely on others because others are the resources. Also seems it’s a general trend that younger or inexperienced folks are not trusted with the mantel of responsibility. Young folks are expected to hit the ground running, be fully prepared and not need any hand holding (guidance) support. Even with the presidential selection we waste so much time trying to get an outsider who has inside information and inside experience. We want change but predictable change and we want carnal knowledge without sin.

Passing on your knowledge and experience is expected and required, having all the answers is not. Being able to look at old problems with fresh eyes and devising new solutions, priceless. Eventually even Mic Jagger will retire and rock-n-roll will change. Might as well prepare the next generation for what we are leaving them.

Posted in Workforce & Education

statewide STEM education system in northeast Ohio


Just heard on the news that Cleveland is thinking about something called STEM. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This is supposed to be a statewide initiative to improve schools and insure kids are ready for college. The emphasis is on critical thinking and problem solving. It is funded by the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation. Sounds pretty encouraging. The web site is This is a serious leg up for the community. What do you think?


There’s a lot of activity taking shape over STEM and it’s encouraging to see the pieces come together. Cleveland Metropolitan School District is looking to build a STEM high school. The region’s universities have banded together and our seeking state support to expand STEM scholarships. And a group of philanthropic funders are bringing together regional leaders to reimagine how we prepare our youth for the 21st century and STEM could be front-and-center in that effort. The challenge is maintaining the momentum and coordinating efforts. It is good to see the Department of Development putting an emphasis on this as STEM education is all about economic development in the long run.

We do work in educational reform and learning institutions improvement; STEM is an emerging initiative that will not only strengthen critical and creative thinking capacities – but MORE IMPORTANTLY – serve as a conduit for enabling schools to build partnerships with business and community. The aim is to create relationships that help children gain applied learning experiences and, at the same time, support companies by providing a pipeline of young resource.

However, STEM is just a conduit, in my opinion…..The current agenda that continues to push schools and communities toward a new dynamic in working together. This new culture of “school-community partnership building” is being advocated by KnowledgeWorks Foundation, the BEST Collaborative, Board of Regents, etc…

The danger in STEM is thinking that science emphasis is the solution to children’s learning potential and community economic challenge. We have to learn to support the WHOLE CHILD and his / her family system if we are to truly nurture their full potential development. All STEM initiatives, hopefully, will keep that in mind.

All in all, if we remember its core intent: linking of schools and communities — we just might be able to usher in a new age of educational value. In this exciting context — neighborhood driven regionalism (resource sharing) could really have a chance to evolve.

Our experience thus far in helping schools create STEM projects is positive: it just takes a willingness to see our RELATEDNESS TO ON ANOTHER differently.

Posted in Workforce & Education

Brain Gain by Virtue of Entrepreneurship


In 2001, I left my home in St. Louis to embark on a journey to a foreign destination known as CleveLand. I came for the purpose of attending Case Western Reserve University, with no intention of achieving an engineering, law, medical or business degree. In 2005, I graduated Case with a B.A. in Psychology (much to the mockery of my over-zealous classmates), thinking I was taking a chance by studying something that actually interested me. I had no further intention of pursuing psychology, therein having no intention of formally counseling troubled patients or engage in the field in any professional way whatsoever. Instead, I made another “fatalistic” decision: I stayed in Cleveland.

Now, two years into the professional world, my friends and college companions (who have since hurriedly left Cleveland in pursuit of bigger dreams in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco) keep asking me, in condescending fashion: “Dude, why are you still in Cleveland?” to which I respond, “Dude, how much is your rent in New York?” Rent prices, cost of living and quality of life aside, the real answer is: entrepreneurship.

When I say entrepreneurship in Cleveland, OH I am still met with dumbfounded looks and sneering conversational tones. I mean, I must be one stupid psychology major to think that there is anything even remotely entrepreneurial about Northeast Ohio. But, at the end of my tenure at Case, I realized something – everyone around me wanted to leave. Being that my ultimate goal in life is to start a business, I felt that if I stayed in Northeast Ohio, I would have the chance to interact with professionals at the top of their games. With less peer competition and less levels of hierarchy and bureaucracy to wade through, I would be surrounded by business and civic leaders and new and veteran entrepreneurs.
As much as I wanted to sit in cubicles for 10 years before I got a promotion to a bigger cubicle, I felt it more suitable to apply myself in new exciting developments that, down the road, would pay off handsomely. And by pay off, I don’t mean financially – I mean the pay off of accomplishment. To look back and say, “I was a part of THAT and look where it’s come.” I look around and I see a lot of THAT going on.

Which brings me to my point of Brain Gain by Virtue of Entrepreneurship. I believe that I am not the only one who wants to look back and feel a sense of pride for having changed the world in some significant way. In fact, I believe there are a great many young students, many exiting the doors of the many regional universities, that feel the exact same way. They are full of energy, creativity, and skill and are eager to use the tools (you know, like that thing called the internet) and methods they learn in the classroom in real world applications. Their minds and spirits have yet to be crushed by the notion of impossibility, bureaucracy, and politics. They are fueled by diversity, growth, change, differentiation, and uniqueness. To whichever frustration or problem young people express, the elders will say, “Get used to it. That’s the real world.” And the young people will think to themselves, “Not if I have anything to do about it.” Call it naivety, arrogance, ignorance, privilege, whatever. We can spend time trying to understand their mentality, or we can spend time harnessing their potential and using it to fuel our economy. If Northeast Ohio wants to keep its young and talented, it will present more professional opportunities for them to make a difference and still be able to pay off their college loans. It will create an environment wherein they are working on bigger issue projects, working side-by-side with high ranking professionals. It will differentiate itself from the notion of the “corporate ladder,” and engage them in new businesses and non-profits. It will show them that unlike Chicago, New York, Boston or San Fransisco, NEO will surround them with the resources they need to make an immediate impact. Above all, it will nurture their “fatalistic” notion of hope. Otherwise, the $1500/mo 300 sq. ft. apartment in New York will still look mighty appealing.


Interesting comment. Although from the tone I assume you don’t think the young are embraced in Cleveland, I’m hoping you might be a little more explicit in your experience. Where have you felt welcome, where have you been stiff armed?

You don’t have to name names, but with the plethora of young professional networking groups and growing evidence that entrepreneurs are succeeding in Northeast Ohio (such as increased venture deals) I’m hoping that it’s not all gloom and doom out there for the young. But then I’m a 45-year-old white guy working in an office building and may well be way out of touch. What do you and other young entrepreneurs have to say?

The best part of my education at Case was my internship in the Department of Human Resources. I was extremely fortunate to work with the Director at the time, who was a progressive-thinking, empowering individual. While I was assigned the mundane tasks inherent in any HR work, he assigned me projects that were directly associated with major HR initiatives for the University. As an intern, I helped him shape the format and process for a program called the Employee-Assisted Housing Program. Any employee that relocated to the City of Cleveland would be assisted by the University between $10k – $15k over 5 years towards their new home. While an intern, I realized a need for more internships throughout the University’s non-academic departments. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if more students were working in the Government Relations, President’s Office, General Counsel, External Affairs, Development offices?” What a great way for students to gain practical experience for the “real” world by working for their own University! What a cost-effective way for the University to have talented students working on major initiatives! What a great way to retain talent here in Northeast Ohio by connecting students with other leaders in the community! The Director believed in me and my idea, had me perform extensive research on the Best Practices of other Universities, businesses and organizations, and write a formal proposal. He pushed the proposal through, and a meeting was scheduled with the Provost, CFO, and VP of Student Affairs. They accepted the proposal, and my idea became a reality. At the age of 22, I was employed by Case to run an initiative I had proposed.

The point of my story is that I was very fortunate to have a boss who saw my potential, who pushed me to exceed expectations, who mentored me when I didn’t understand things, who recognized my passion to make a difference. A few months later, he was recruited by Harvard. I left the department shortly thereafter – there was no one there to pick up the progressive moving ball (and due to financial constraints, I was let go.)

The professional networking groups you are referring to are at the mercy of their big corporate sponsors. Should any one of these groups make a radical decision or action that is unfavorable to the conservative ideals of its money bearers, they will lose funding and close up shop. Therefore, these organizations do the same events with the same people talking about the same topics. There have been times that I got excited at one of these engagements, because it seemed that people were ready to take action. Instead, they were ready to go home because there seemed to be an aire of consensus that starting a new initiative wasn’t worth it – it wouldn’t be supported. It was just nice to vent about it.

Which then leads to the issue, as I see it, as one of increasing awareness, engagement and empowerment. Take a survey of college students in the region, and ask them if they’ve ever heard of JumpStart, Civic Innovation Lab,, Nortech, BioEnterprise, the City Club, Cleveland Foundation,, or even the Fund. Ask them if they’ve ever heard of any of the middle-market and start-up companies in Northeast Ohio (or if they even know that such exist!). Actually, don’t spend the time or money: I can unequivocally say that, en masse, they have no idea.

So, how do you get those who don’t know engaged? A mass marketing campaign? I would say no on this one too. I think the youth of today (like me) are turned off by mass marketing efforts – they are interested in something exclusive and different. They want to hear it from the horse’s mouth. They want to be close with leaders, visionaries, movers and shakers. They want to be where their friends are. They want to tell their friends and families that they’re working on this awesome new initiative with (insert CEO’s or Civic Leader’s name here) on a huge new convention center known as the Medical Mart, or working for a start-up company that is innovating a new device to alleviate brain trauma, or a new non-profit like E City that works with inner-city youth on education and entrepreneurship. I find myself being the champion for these efforts among my friends, who have no idea these organizations or initiatives exist. And if they have heard about it, they will say, “So what? It’s not like they’re going to hire me. I don’t have any experience and it’s not like I know anyone who will get me in there.”

I think the onus lies on the leaders of this community, like my internship boss at Case or the Founder and President of my current concern, to acknowledge the energy and talent in their own backyard. To take on young people as their personal interns, not the interns of their managers. To train and guide these interns in their respective fields. To establish strong direction and deliverables for them to achieve. To set them free to explore their interests and champion their initiatives. To show them firsthand what it means to be a driving force in not just Cleveland, but society.

As for me, my personal experience has been fine. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can engage with some of the region’s leaders and be a part of new exciting initiatives. When I tell my peers about my job, they usually tell me I’m lucky and that they wished they could be doing something similar. When I talked to some interns at various big companies here in town, they said how they wished they didn’t have to sit in a cubicle all day and stare at spreadsheets. There are some real gem organizations to be a part of here – I am merely expressing my sentiments for more of these gems and means by which to get more young people involved.


Thanks for keeping the conversation going. One of the organizations in the region that is trying to reach out to young adults is the Youngstown Business Incubator, which has developed a MySpace page with some interesting results.

Would there be any merit in setting up a MySpace or Facebook site for the region’s young adults to connect/comment on the issues you’ve raised?



Thank you for the info about the YBI – certainly enlightening and refreshing to see that kind of activity going on. I’d also like to bring the forum’s attention to this article in today’s Akron Beacon Journal:

There will be more where that came from.

By age I’m probably just about in the middle of both of you. By sentiment, I lean perhaps away from you both though. My concern is that it’s not so much a “intern/new graduate” dilemma but one whereby self-diagnosed progressive thinkers/doers have difficulty finding their place in Cleveland’s circles. Whether it be coughing up the thousands for the “leadership” or “builder” programs because your company won’t front the money for you or trying to pushing professional organizations to be more innovative, emerging leaders need environments to thrive and elements that are supportive enough to take risks. We keep the faith because Cleveland is such a great city; but it’s not easy when you can’t get a job that’s satisfying and pays your worth.

A few years back — two careers ago — I spoke to one of the “builder” program you referenced and advised attendees that they shouldn’t just kick down the doors of traditional Cleveland to “find their place,” but they should jump on the desk and demand their place.

The point of my excess was that there is no need to wait one’s turn to drive change. If the existing institutions won’t accept you, find a few like-minded souls and take the challenge on yourself. The landscape is full of people who saw a need and a found a way to meet. Indeed, Bridge Builders was one such organization back in its formative stages. As was Green City, Blue Lake; Cool Cleveland; and so many others.

The job issue you raise is much tougher. We recognize the need to foster more business startups and more high-growth industries. Partners in Advance Northeast Ohio are committed to creating more of the opportunities you seek. But those opportunities will not be created over night. Not much solace, I realize, but we are pushing hard.

Indeed, mobilizing young people toward entrepreneurship is key for our future. Their values, knowledge framework and lifestyles almost imply ALTERNATIVE work experience, and their thirst for meaningful living demands it. Certainly, those in the brain-drain population will be our next set of new business visionaries.

But I’d really like to stretch us all to think BIGGER about the Entrepreneurship Agenda….something bigger then ‘brain drain prevention’. I’d like us to think about brain preservation, with an emphasis on those real people who are living real lives – just trying to make it day by day.

Entrepreneurship just might save THEM, and simultaneously rebuild our neighborhoods.

I’m specificially referring to those “invisible” populations we tend to not like to think about: the poor, women in life transition, early retirees, mothers taking a break from traditional work, men and women released from prison, children transitioning out of the foster care system, gang leaders, at-risk teens (ages 14-17) the disabled, women on welfare, the underemployed and the unemployed. You would be surprised how many in your own neighborhood comprise these categories.

Our Entrepreneurship Agenda had a space dedicated to this type of grass roots mobilization? Dedicated to those in the brain preservation population?

Within this vision, we value all people as learners who honor them as not “yet done” with learning or improving their lives. We breathe life into their need for hope and move them toward self-determination. Most importantly, we REMEMBER that they exist as a vital part of our community.

I’ve got lots of ideas here. Here’s one vision we hope to mobilize, called WORKSTART and WORKSTART PLUS:

Every time someone applies for welfare or food stamps, offer them a small business development workforce option, too. However, do not “penalize” them by taking away their food stamps for 1-2 years, while their business vision is forming and being implemented. Host these business innovation centers right AT THE WELFARE OFFICES and pass out literature to everyone waiting to see their workers. This is a particularly powerful strategy for the growing number of immigrants utilizing the public assistance program, too. Workforce Plus combined entrepreneurship with whole life support services.

We forget that ALL PEOPLE (rich, poor, educated, homeless, victim, etc…) have a creative life force inside of them just waiting for someone to notice. Look deep into the eyes of those who are suffering: they cling onto every word that might shine hope into their life of challenge.

The tip of the entrepreneurship iceberg rests in those who dream of rebuilding their lives.

Posted in Uncategorized

civic engagement

  • Manufacturing Jobs Go Unfilled


    We’ve spent a lot of time lately talking about the schizophrenic job market in Northeast Ohio. Unemployment is above the national average and incomes are below the norm. Yet, thousands of jobs are available, including many in the manufacturing sector. One only has to read the newspaper to know manufacturing operations are continuing to close. So how can it be that manufacturers can’t find workers?

    The Associated Press takes a look at that issue with a story that’s being published around the country and its focused on Northeast Ohio. You can read the whole story here.

    Here are the first few graphs:

    CLEVELAND – Michael Starr was laid off in mid-career from his factory job and found himself back in the classroom to upgrade his skills – for a new high-tech manufacturing environment struggling to find workers.

    Working in industry today “is not like the old days: get a hammer and fix it,” the 45-year-old said.

    Starr was laid off Jan. 15 from his sheet-metal working job in suburban Medina. He has enrolled in a Lorain County Community College program to take courses in computers, math, machining, industrial blueprint reading, advanced computerized numerical controlled milling and job-search and study skills.

    When he showed up in class, “I was terrified, (like) training an old dog new tricks,” he said.

    The nation has shed 5 million manufacturing jobs in three decades, but higher-skill factory jobs like Starr’s goal increasingly go unfilled as employers deal with applicants with poor reading and math abilities and a bad attitude about blue-collar work.

    The National Association of Manufacturers says the skill shortages have hurt production and the ability to meet customer demands.

    And the pattern is likely to persist as the nation sheds old-style manufacturing to compete in a global economy.

    The story also highlights MAGNET, which has a new campaign called Dream It! Do It! to attract more people into the manufacturing arena. Also, a consortium of health care systems trying to address the shortage in medical workers is exploring how to help laid-off Ford workers to transition into the health care industry.

    What do you think we should be doing to help incumbent workers keep their present jobs or develop the skills for the jobs of tomorrow?

    Bookmark/Search this post with:


    # Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 05/24/2007 – 09:51.

    Schools have always been used to fill job needs. Max Hayes is doing work with WIRE NET to help fill some of these jobs. But why not have a school that specifically targets, for the general school population, the courses needed to fill these jobs? Manufacturing companies in dire need of these skilled workers could become active in this school’s community. I love the WIRE NET program but it does seem as if more students could take advantage of the jobs if more students were educated accordingly.

    # Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 05/24/2007 – 11:07.

    What should we be doing to advance the skills of NE Ohio? How about getting active in programs like those at Max Hayes and other area schools? Last weekend, over 2000 people — families, students, car fanatics and others — came to gether at the first Shoreway Classic and Career Opportunities Showcase at Max Hayes HS. Max Hayes is the only Cleveland school teaching technical skills like machining, Computer Aided Design, Welding, Auto Body and Auto Tech. WIRE-Net and DA MotorSports organized the Showcase to merge the interests of NE Ohio car buffs with interested parents and students. We were glad to have Magnet and Dream It Do It involved…but we need more support!

    See our website at for more information.

    # Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 05/24/2007 – 15:40.

    Two generations ago, the American middle class was fed a fairy tale that most bought hook, line and sinker. “Get an education, go to work, pay your taxes, play by the rules and you will have a job for life.” The reality now is that many multi national corporations have the ability to pull workers from anywhere on the globe, for pennies on the dollar.Couple this new reality with the current imbalance of trade and federal government budget deficits, those with a job are forced to worker longer hours with higher costs of living for incremental wage increases.

    Now that the genie is out of the bottle, labor and white collar workers must embark on a life long path of learning new skills and keeping abreast in the latest technology. Unless the middle class can breathe and stop long enough to assess their current environment and quickly adapt to the changes of that environment, the U.S. will be a unwilling participate in a third world caste system.

    # Submitted by ARSWORLDWIDE on Thu, 05/24/2007 – 21:17.

    The first question coming to my mind is, what are the jobs of tomorrow and who will be learning these skills? Are current workers looking to develop the new skills. Employers with incentive to encourage their workforce to develop the skills now, appears to be a viable approach. Everything has vocabulary, and progressive steps. By introducing both to the current workforce, before a job loss or plant closing gives the worker a leg up. Pair at work learning with community based education where the worker can opt to take time for traditional training courses away from the job, or at the employers’ location, versus a pay raise. No pay raise, then a reduction in pay, to accommondate time away from job duties for skills training. Mirror training with personal discipline habits of a personal budget, investment skills, and savings/retirement goals. Develping skills for tomorrow is developing a new mindset.

    # Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 05/26/2007 – 07:13.

    The North East Ohio manufacturing CEO’s complained, “It is getting more and more difficult to find folks with the skill levels we desire.”

    So, the manufacturing community, in its desperation for skilled workers, turned to the education community and the non-profits to solve the problem.
    Happily, career and tech educators redesigned programs and wrote new curriculum to teach the skills that manufacturers said they needed, but soon complained not enough students signed up for the classes.
    The non-profits, knowing that problems present opportunities to garner more grant money, created boards, had meetings, held forums, wrote action plans, sponsored luncheons, gave each other awards, and hired marketing firms.
    The marketing firms, relied upon conventional wisdom, and came up with the strategy: Cool sells. Make manufacturing look like a cool career choice.

    Recruiting efforts were aimed at children in grade school: “Look at this robot…isn’t manufacturing cool? …Go to a career tech school. You can learn to build robots and make lots of money.”
    The kids thought, “That’s nice, but I’m gonna play for the NBA, then I’ll be a rap star, then I’ll go to Hollywood.”

    Numbers in the high school and community college manufacturing programs continued to decline. More and more money was being pumped into the schools yet the trickle of young people seeking jobs in manufacturing was slowing to a drip.
    Manufacturers began to panic; the worker deficit was in a rapid decline as baby-boomers retired. Lobbyists got the state and federal governments to dedicate money for job training. Relying, once again, on conventional problem solving, manufacturing threw even more money at the non-profits.
    What did they get? Another ad campaign, a new slogan, and still no increase in skilled employees.
    The bumper-sticker definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same thing and expect different results.
    Why does the manufacturing community keep looking to the non-profit community to solve its difficulties? The non-profits are in the business of keeping themselves busy, and finding money to pay their salaries. The manufacturing industry needs to look inside its own walls for the answers.

    Every good plant manager knows that the answers to a company’s problems are found on the factory floor.

    Identify your best employees. Talk to them. Why did they come to your company? Where were they trained? How old were they when they made the choice to work in manufacturing? Why did they choose to work in manufacturing? What other jobs did they have?
    Would the most popular responses be: “When I was a kid in junior high, I decided I wanted to work in a factory”, or “Factory jobs are cool, they have always been my dream.”?
    A more typical response will be, “After I had a couple of kids, I needed a job with decent wages, regular hours and health care.”

    Exit questionnaires are also very informative.
    Ask the technical schools how many students are enrolled in their manufacturing programs, and then check to see how many are actually working in manufacturing a year or two after graduating. Talk to the students who AREN’T working in the industry. Why did they quit the program? Why aren’t they working for a manufacturer? Wasn’t this a really “cool” job?

    It is time for a reality check.

    Entry level factory jobs aren’t all that cool. The high school basketball player isn’t dreaming of pressing buttons on a CNC machine in an Eastlake job shop. But the twenty five year old single mother might be, or the store clerks with bachelors’ degrees, college loans, car-loans, and mortgages, or the father of three who just got out of the half-way house after serving 14 months for selling marijuana.

    Manufacturing jobs are good jobs, but they aren’t all that “sexy”. If the industry can’t find recruits amongst the 18-21 year-olds coming out of high schools and community colleges, perhaps it is time to look at a different, more mature demographic.
    Who are the people looking for good jobs with regular hours and good benefits?
    Young parents, struggling college grads, new immigrants, and ex-offenders trying to get back on track,

    Instead of wasting money at the front end of the problem, on ineffective feel-good recruiting campaigns, which end up promoting schools, but do very little to ease the worker shortage in the manufacturing industry, wouldn’t it make more sense to offer student loan-forgiveness for people who successfully complete manufacturing skills training classes and enter the workforce, to provide more substantial scholarships to high school graduates pursuing degrees in manufacturing related fields, and to support the Second Chance Act and ex-offender reentry job training?

    # Submitted by cthompson on Sat, 05/26/2007 – 11:04.

    I appreciate your thoughtful comments and the comments of others who are joining the Advance Northeast Ohio community.

    I think MAGNET’s Dream It Do It campaign is also targeting adults, not just high school students. You can learn more about their program here.