A town hall meeting about Jobs and the Economy was held on Wednesday, October 3, 2012, right here in Columbus, Ohio. As an Employment Services Specialist with a non-profit agency, I was definitely interested in hearing Ohio’s numbers regarding unemployment, employment, and what we could do better as a state. Newscaster, Yolanda Harris, started out the program by revealing Ohio’s position within the economy. Ohio’s current rate of unemployment was 7.2%, which made it the fifth best rate within the country. This number is lower than the recession rate in 2009, which was 10.1% and was the highest unemployment rate for Ohio between 2008 and 2012. Buckeye state, how encouraging is it to know that Ohio is doing great in regards to employment. I know I feel great!
As the discussion progressed, the program revealed five panelist to talk about jobs, the economy, what should be done to improve it and other helpful information. The panel consisted of: Dale Butland (Innovation Ohio), Dr. Bill Lafayette (Regionomics), Cheryl Hay (Columbus State Community College), Jim Newton (Commerce National Bank) and Terry Casey (GOP Strategist). Viewers and attendees were encouraged to ask questions via Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtag #ColumbusTownHall in tweets. The first question was posed to the audience. The facilitator said, “Clap if you think the economy is getting better. Now clap if you think the economy is getting worse.” The number of claps were split between better and worse. The facilitator then posed the same question to the panel. Four individuals motioned that the economy was getting better and one person was undecided. Mr. Butland stated that “in evaluating whether or not the economy is getting better, you have to look at the actually numbers. Things are getting better. In order for things to get better, we have to plan for progress toward growth.” Mr. Butland reiterated numerous times that “the economy works better when there is a strong middleclass who has money to spend and put money back into economy.” Mr. Butland also stated that “when the presidential debate takes place tonight, listen to the candidate who explains and provides examples of his strategic plan and what he plans to do to help the economy.”
The facilitator’s next question was directed to Mr. Newton and was regarding why it was more difficult for people to maintain a standard cost of living. Mr. Newton responded by stating, “The nation is in a policy drift and that it is hard to maintain a standard cost of living when food and energy are continuously on the rise.” This response lead the facilitator in talking about the American Dream deferred. Mr. Layfatte responded to the question by stating that the American Dream is getting harder to acquire due to the “skill requirements for jobs rapidly changing; employers are now hiring individuals that can do more.” Mr. Casey added that the “economy started changing as we moved from the agriculture era to manufacturing era.” He also stated that the times had changed and “people are no longer working for one employer and staying there the rest of their lives.”
As the audience started questioning the panel, one audience member posed a question I was all too familiar with; unemployment and people with disabilities. The person asked about what was beening doing to combat Ohio’s 80% unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities. Cheryl Hay, from Columbus State, spoke up about Columbus State’s Logistic’s Program. She stated that programs were being tailored to this population to fit their needs. Ms. Hay said something important during the program that had the ability of impacting everyone who heard her; she said, “One size fits all programs can’t work. You have to personalize opportunities.” She is absolutely right about that statement because not everyone learns the same, so you have to create programming to fit that specific needs of the individual. One last important thing that Cheryl provided to the audience was regarding individuals with criminal records. She told individuals to be honest about their past by stating, “This is the issue, here’s what I’ve done since then and this is what I am bringing to the table.” This is exactly what I have taught some of my clients with criminal records and have seen it work.
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