Beyond 25 Years: WIRE-Net Plans for the Future

Mark Dawson

Mark Dawson doesn't have a lot of time to look back on WIRE-Net's storied history. As current Board President, he's too busy looking ahead at the organization's objectives for the coming years.

"Right now we're completing a strategic planning process that is going to help lay out the direction for the next three years for WIRE-Net," Dawson said. "There's no magical new direction for us, but it's important that we get back to our roots and focus on our core initiatives, like our wind energy programs and educational programs.

"We offer lots of other services for our manufacturers," he continued. "We're making sure that they all fit into the core strengths and the mission of WIRE-Net, and that they fit together and complement each other for the benefit of our local manufacturers."

Dawson noted that one of the top challenges he most often hears about these days has to do with workforce and workforce development. "In a machine shop like mine, skilled workers are very hard to find," he stated. "Especially those young workers who can come here, grow with the company, and be a part of the company for 30 or 40 years. They're extremely hard to find. Young people just aren't going into manufacturing like they did in the past. That's another important thing WIRE-Net is trying to improve, the labor pool and labor supply for local manufacturers."

WIRE-Net's partnership with the new Max S. Hayes Career and Technical High School, the only trade school in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, is one of the talent pipelines in the workforce continuum of services. The New Max Hayes School opens in 2015 with state-of-the-art training programs and curriculum designed to educate and equip a workforce that will fuel the future manufacturing, construction, transportation and automotive sectors.

Dawson asserts that, while workforce training and development will remain a core focus for WIRE-Net, specific services offered to manufacturers will grow as well. "Assisting manufacturers in identifying new sources and new markets for their products, that's been a big focus. An important initiative right now is in the supply chain arena, helping companies develop a local supply chain," he said. "GLWN is another huge initiative for WIRE-Net, and with the new offshore wind development going on in Lake Erie, there's future potential for the organization as well."

"WIRE-Net is...truly an invaluable asset for the manufacturing community. Be a part of it. Come to an event. Talk to your local WIRE-Net representative. It's an organization that, in my opinion, gives back a lot more than one puts into it."

Mark Dawson, WIRE-Net Board Chairman, 2012-2013

Still, with all the promise that lies ahead, Dawson can't help but reflect on the imprint this organization has had on Cleveland manufacturing.

"WIRE-Net has created a real niche for itself as the go-to source for small to medium manufacturers," he commented. "It's a wonderful resource when you need information on Lean...on 5S...on manufacturing software...on latest HR developments...on Workers' Comp...on dealing with the legals on infrastructure or environment in the city or community. Whatever issue may come up for a manufacturer, if WIRE-Net doesn't have the answer, they can point that business in the right direction for it."

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