Area 20 Workforce Development Board launches six-month vanpool pilot program

Dec. 20, 2023
In collaboration with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Mid West Fabricating, the pilot program aims at addressing transportation barriers to employment in Fairfield County, Ohio.

The Area 20 Workforce Development Board, in collaboration with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and Mid West Fabricating, has launched a vanpool pilot program aimed at addressing transportation barriers to employment in Fairfield County, Ohio. 

Mid West Fabricating is working to attract and retain a skilled workforce by providing additional transportation options for employees and potential hires. With the six-month pilot program, partners hope to demonstrate how vanpooling can serve as a rural solution for transportation issues faced by many businesses in Fairfield and surrounding counties. 

“Transportation is one of the biggest barriers job seekers in our region face when trying to enter the workforce so we are thrilled to be a part of this innovative approach to solving the transportation crisis. Mid-West Fabricating has been a valuable community partner for many years and this project will help support their growing workforce needs while also providing new opportunities to community members. We’re hopeful this is just the first of many companies which will take advantage of this program,” said Area 20 Workforce Development Board Director Rick Szabrak. 

The South Central Ohio Workforce Partnership serves as the Area 20 Workforce Development Board. The board is responsible for overseeing disbursement of funds for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Area 20 is comprised of Fairfield, Hocking, Pickaway, Ross and Vinton counties. The partnership sets policies on how funding is used for adults, dislocated workers and youth that are eligible for WIOA funds. The funding is used for training and placement of individuals with local employers. 

“We believe this pilot project has the potential to demonstrate how more transportation options for employees and potential employees can help to support organizational growth. The Gohio Commute program helps all residents rethink their ride and find a smarter way to commute to work,” said MORPC Transportation Demand Management Program Manager Patty Olmsted. 

Transit agencies across the U.S. are increasingly implementing vanpool programs to help with their recruitment and retention of employees. Employers have cited flexibility, ease of use and affordability as the main reasons for the growing popularity of vanpool programs. Many regions, including central Ohio, offer grants to help off-set the cost of vanpooling. 

“Mid West Fabricating is very excited to begin this program and greatly appreciates the support from Area 20 and MORPC on the implementation. Our goal is to have several routes in place, opening careers in manufacturing to people who could not previously participate due to lack of consistent transportation. We hope to have additional routes in operation soon, connecting people in Fairfield and surrounding counties with work opportunities not available to them previously. Manufacturing careers provide consistent pay, wonderful benefits, and career advancement opportunities. Our first route starting in Glouster, with a stop in Nelsonville, has seats available and we welcome applicants who want to join the vanpool with our existing team members,” said Jennifer Friel, CEO, Mid West Fabricating.