MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Two employees have been hired to drive economic development locally -- part of the Richland County Foundation’s $1.1 million five-year transformative strategic plan.The Foundation, Richland County Jobs and Family Services and private donors are funding a director of workforce development and a director of business retention and expansion to work for the Richland Community Development Group. RCJFS initially is investing $50,000 in the workforce development portion of the program.Barrett Thomas of Mansfield has been selected the director of business retention and expansion and Karen Seman of Canton, Michigan, the director of workforce development. “On boarding Barrett and Karen at RCDG is just the beginning of the implementation phase of the economic development strategy,” said Brady Groves, Richland County Foundation.He noted the groups are partnering and investing in existing economic development organizations and projects to nurture and grow the local economy.“The collaboration among RCDG, Foundation, area economic development organizations and elected officials will allow us to address the needs of local businesses and should result in a growing, more vibrant local economy,” said John Brown, RCDG chairman and Richland Bank president.Thomas most recently was the Microfinance Manager at Braintree Business Development Center in Mansfield. He also teaches economics and accounting at the Ohio State University - Mansfield.Prior to his position at Braintree, Thomas directed finances and daily operations of a student development program, Africa Quest, in Ndola, Zambia, Africa. His resume also includes positions at Tyndale Publishers in Carol Stream, IL and the American Red Cross in Columbus, Thomas earned a master’s degree in business administration and bachelor’s degree in business administration from Taylor University in Fort Wayne, IN. He earned a Business Advisor Certification from the University Of Toledo Graduate School Of Business.Seman most recently was the marketing director at Industrial Technical Institute/Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center in Plymouth, Michigan. Before that she was a recruitment manager for the Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) and Technical Service Training at BMW of North America in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. She also held positions at the Melior Institute in Troy, Michigan, and at the Mahoning County Career Technology Center in Canfield, Seman earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Youngstown State University.Her training and certifications include phase one of the Economic Development Finance Professional Certification from the National Development Council and AYES apprentice-mentor The Foundation’s long range strategic plan called the Greater Richland Partnership includes:- The centralization of business retention and expansion and workforce development.- A scale-up program to identify and target services to area companies to address specific challenges and catalyze growth.- The empowerment of existing organizations to promote entrepreneurship and related services across the county.- A community website to be launched to serve as an economic performance dashboard to track successes and show progress toward important goals of the new plan.A Strategic Review Committee comprised of Foundation board members and community leaders will track the progress and monitor metrics to ensure positive outcomes in the county.

Source: Braintree staffer tapped by RCDG for Richland County economic development role URL: