WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Wednesday hosted his Fourth Annual College and University Presidents’ Conference in Washington, D.C. with more than 50 presidents from colleges and universities across Ohio. Sen. Brown met with more than fifty college and university presidents.

“Colleges and universities play a crucial role in developing our state’s workforce for the jobs of the 21st century,” Brown said. “If we’re going to attract employers in high-growth industries, we need to ensure that our college graduates have the skills to fill these jobs. And if we’re going to keep young talent in our state, we need to connect students with businesses in our state. Ohio’s colleges and universities are truly anchor institutions. My annual conference builds on the legacy that links education with economic prosperity, which in turn creates a stronger middle class.”

Brown’s forum – the first of its kind – is aimed at connecting educators with business leaders to advance regional economic development. Brown is a champion of tailoring workforce development programs to meet the needs of regional, high-growth industries.
Brown recently announced reintroduced the bipartisan SECTORS Act. The Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act, legislation that would promote job creation by preparing workers with education and training tailored for jobs in high-growth industry sectors—like biosciences, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing—in regions across the country.

The SECTORS Act addresses the disparity between high unemployment rates and a shortage of skilled workers for many emerging industries by providing grants for sector partnerships among institutions of higher education, industry, organized labor, and workforce boards. These partnerships would create customized solutions for specific industries at the regional level. A sector approach can focus on the dual goals of promoting the long-term competitiveness of industries and advancing employment opportunities for workers.

The SECTORS Act would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry-multiple firms, unions, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators-to develop plans for growing that industry. Eligible entities would be able to apply for a one year planning grant of up to $250,000 and a three year implementation grant of up to $2.5 million

Brown invited several special guests to address the forum, including Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, James Kvaal, Deputy Undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and representatives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and NASA Chief Technologist Dr. Bobby Braun.

This year’s forum also connected Ohio college presidents with regional business leaders, including Alex Fischer, President and CEO, Columbus Partnership; Jim Leftwich, appointed to the Ohio Department of Development; Darrin Redus, Chief Economic Inclusion Officer, JumpStart; and Baiju Shah, President, CEO and Founder, BioEnterprise. Brown is the author of the bipartisan Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act, legislation that would promote job creation by preparing workers with education and training tailored for jobs in regional high-growth industry sectors—like biosciences, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing.

Statewide participants include:

Frederick Finks, Ashland University
Richard W. Durst, Baldwin-Wallace College
Carol A. Cartwright, Bowling Green State University
Denvy Bowman, Capital University
Barbara Snyder, Case Western Reserve University
William Brown, Cedarville University
Bonnie Coe, Central Ohio Technical College
Odell Owens, Cincinnati State Technical & Community College
Joel Smirnoff, Cleveland Institute of Music
Ronald Berkman, Cleveland State University
David Harrison, Columbus State Community College
Jerry Sue Thornton, Cuyahoga Community College
Dale Knobel, Denison University
Laura Meeks, Eastern Gateway Community College
Kenneth Yowell, Edison Community College
Thomas Chema, Hiram College
Ronald Erickson, Hocking College
Debra McCurdy, James A. Rhodes State College
Robert Niehoff, John Carroll University
Charles Scriven, Kettering College Of Medical Arts
Roy Church, Lorain County Community College
Robert Helmer, Lourdes College
Wilbert J. Friesen, Malone University
Jean Scott, Marietta College
David Hodge, Miami University
Tom Stuckey, Northwest State Community College
Andrew Roth, Notre Dame College
Don Plotts, North Central State College
Mark A. Smith, Ohio Christian University
Peter Cimbolic, Ohio Dominican University
Rock Jones, Ohio Wesleyan University
Kathy Krendl, Otterbein College
Larry McDougle, Owens Community College
Rita Rice Morris, Shawnee State University
Steven Lee Johnson, Sinclair Community College
John O'Donnell, Stark State College
Grant H. Cornwell, The College Of Wooster
Gordon Gee, The Ohio State University
Paul Marion, Tiffin University
Roger Sublett, Union Institute & University
Luis Proenza, University of Akron
Gregory Williams, University of Cincinnati
Barbara Gellman-Danley, University Of Rio Grande
Diana Stano, Ursuline College
Charlotte Hatfield, Washington State Community College
Patricia Hardaway, Wilberforce University
Daniel DiBiasio, Wilmington College
Mark Erickson, Wittenberg University
David Hopkins, Wright State University
Michael Graham, Xavier University
Paul Brown, Zane State College