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Published: Saturday, 1/30/2010

Ohio governor, Toledo mayor urge jobless to learn skills

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell nearly flunked out of college before "re-focusing." Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland got all C's his first semester before buckling down.

Unemployed workers enrolled in a college composition class at Lucas County's one-stop employment center got a pep talk Friday from the two politicians.

"Stay at it," Mr. Strickland urged the students after telling them of his difficulties with higher education and early life as one of just two children in a family of nine to graduate from high school.

Trailing Republican opponent John Kasich in opinion polls for Ohio's gubernatorial race this November, Mr. Strickland was flanked by a posse of local Democratic elected officials as he toured the Lucas County Workforce Development Agency, 1301 Monroe St., yesterday morning.

Mr. Strickland described the agency - named The Source - as "a good place" staffed by "caring people" eager to give unemployed people the help they need. "I'm just glad that a place like this exists," he said.

In one classroom, the governor was questioned by a middle-aged man who told Mr. Strickland that finding work in metro Toledo has become a near impossibility.

"That's a huge problem, especially here in northwest Ohio," Mr. Strickland said sympathetically.

He named several area business expansions planned, including a $400 million upgrade at BP-Husky Refining LLC in Oregon.

The Toledo region's nascent solar-panel technology and production industry will contribute to eventual economic expansion here, Mr. Strickland said.

And because of the continued popularity of Toledo-produced Jeeps, the region could benefit more than other areas of the nation from auto industry restructuring, he added.

"We are living through the greatest economic recession in 70 years," he said. "It's going to take some time. We are on our way to recovery and job creation."

One of the first signs of an upturn will be an increase in temporary employment, the governor added.

"Temporary employment is not the most desirable. But it is usually good news that recovery is on the way," he added.

The Source will conduct a job fair, "Project Hire 2010," from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 30 at the Lucas County Recreation Center in Maumee.

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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