Will We Extract Every Job and Opportunity from America’s Fastest Growing New Industry?

Jun 20, 2017 | News

Archie Williamson.
Diversified Systems, Inc.

Ohio’s emerging medical marijuana industry will, over time, create thousands of jobs through licensee businesses and start-up companies.

The state will soon be producing jobs with titles that didn’t exist here even a year ago — jobs with titles like: cannabis cultivator, processor, dispensary sales manager, patient education director, plant material trimmer… etc, etc.

Beyond these intriguing new jobs and job categories, medical marijuana- related enterprises – in business services, consulting, information technology, packaging – become exciting important new or business add-on options for Ohio entrepreneurs.

The jobs and business opportunity growth curve will be sharp in this new Ohio industry.

The key questions economic and workforce development professionals should be asking is:  Will Ohio make the mistake of other cannabis-legal states by failing to plan for what will be an industry that literally emerges almost overnight?  Or, will we take the lead in crafting economic and workforce development policies and programs that help Ohioans – especially minorities, women and veterans — extract every job and opportunity from this important emerging industry?

As a member of various Central Ohio workforce boards and founding partner of an Ohio Minority Business Enterprise that provides information technology solutions to corporations and government agencies, I’ve spent years working with businesses and industries, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and educational institutions to align workforce and economic development agendas with employer and employee needs.

In my discussions with these partners, I’ve found there’s real interest in a statewide job and entrepreneurship program that helps the medical marijuana industry consistently recruit and train Ohioans – particularly those Ohioans who often find themselves “outside the hiring circle” — while also serving as an incubator for new cannabis-related businesses.

To meet these needs, I propose a cannabis industry/State of Ohio collaborative organization that would:

  • Develop voluntary Ohio industry-wide job classifications and credentialing standards for cannabis cultivators, dispensaries and processors.
  • Serve as a statewide, regional and onsite training provider for the Ohio medical marijuana industry by offering industry standard learning modules for cultivators, dispensary operators and processors.
  • Create consistent, well-vetted job recruitment and training tools to enable Ohio cannabis licensee businesses to more effectively find, train and retain good local employees on their own.
  • Assist cannabis licensee businesses in recruiting, training and credentialing minority, veteran and female applicants to meet their specific hiring needs.
  • And, work with entrepreneurs to help them understand the needs of Ohio licensees so they can develop technology, business solutions, and other products and services to best serve the market.

With the right approach, this cannabis industry/State of Ohio effort could become a national best practice for assuring Ohioans get their fair share of the jobs and opportunities made possible by the fastest growing new industry in America.

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America’s SBDC, the national association that represents the nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), annually recognizes one outstanding SBDC employee from each of its 62 members. This outstanding employee exhibits exemplary performance, makes a significant contribution to their state or regional SBDC program, and shows a strong commitment to small business. Using a peer-based selection process, the Ohio SBDC network selected David Riggs for Ohio’s SBDC State Star.

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JobsOhio’s grant, secured with assistance from the Regional Growth Partnership, will support a planned $321,923 in machinery and equipment upgrades and three new jobs. In addition, Tiffin Foundry and Machine worked with Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership and OhioMeansJobs – Seneca County on other potential incentives to support the company’s growth.

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