Archie D. Williamson Jr.
President/Senior Managing Director, Diversified Systems, Inc.
Past Chair, Workforce Development Board of Central Ohio.
Ohio’s emerging medical marijuana industry will, over time, create thousands of jobs through licensee businesses and start up companies.
Our 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.
Which means, 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 Board member over the years of the several Workforce Development Board’s in Central Ohio 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 can say 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 The Ohio Medical Marijuana Jobs and Opportunity Center, a joint industry/State of Ohio project 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, The Ohio Medical Marijuana Jobs and Opportunity Center 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.