May 3, 2017 (Fremont, Ohio) – What started out as just an idea in 2010 by the Fostoria Economic Development Corporation is almost a reality.  The completion of the construction of the Fostoria Learning Center (FLC) is in sight with the first classes to be held this coming fall.  It has been a long journey, but one that will pay dividends and create a skilled workforce in a community with few resources to do so.

The City of Fostoria, located in Seneca, Hancock and Wood Counties, was once a prosperous community with many industries operating factories with the help of a robust workforce.  Unfortunately, as those industries left Fostoria, so did many of the skilled workers.  This created a vacuum that has impacted the city and surrounding area for many years.

As the idea of the the FLC moved forward, it became its own entity in 2012.  The center received recognition as a 501c(3) non-profit organization and created a board of directors.  From there, a feasibility study was conducted to analyze the education background of the population and the workforce needs of the area.  After more research, it was decided the FLC would have three major components:  manufacturing, mechatronics and medical assisting.

Throughout this process, Cyndi Geroski has a served as the interim director and has assembled an extensive list of partners for the FLC, including Terra State Community College.  In fact, the FLC has already began offering classes since 2014.  Geroski worked extensively with, Jack Fatica, formerly in charge of academic affairs and now is at the Terra State Foundation, Amy Anway, Dean of Allied Health, Nursing and Human Services and Terrie Hopkins, Medical Assisting Program Coordinator to launch the Medical Assisting classes.  “It got to the point where we needed to start some classes,” Geroski says.  “I reached out to Amy, Terrie and Jack and we got in the same room and actually brought ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital in and discussed our needs.”  From those conversations, a Medical Assisting cohort was launched with classes being held at ProMedica Fostoria Community Hospital.  In fact, the first cohort to begin at the FLC participated in their pinning ceremony this year.

It’s not just the Medical Assisting Program that Terra State is involved with.  The College is also an active partner in the mechatronics program.  According to Geroski, Terra State is helping with equipment.  “Terra State is purchasing half of the equipment and machinery for the mechatronics program and the Center is purchasing the other half.”

The goal of the FLC is to have a positive effect on the Fostoria area population and businesses.  “People are just ecstatic,” Geroski continues.  “There are mainly small businesses in Fostoria that need workers and they need training to get those jobs.  Those who can get the training are excited because the travel barrier is lifted and they can take advantage of that.”

As the FLC looks toward its grand opening with the start of the fall semester and beyond, Geroski says already focusing the future.  “Amy and Terrie are already looking at gateway programs to get somebody back into education.  They can then see success and then move on to another program.”

As Terra State continues its dynamic transformation, the partnerships the college enters into are vital.  The work Terra State does with Geroski and the FLC can help the region have the skilled workers that is so important to businesses.  That fact will only attract more industry to the region.   Additionally, Geroski says that Terra State is an outstanding organization in which to join forces.  “Terra State Community College is such a welcoming institution to collaborate with.  Every person I have met has had the student’s needs as their top focus. It’s about what we can do to remove barriers, support or students and collaborate with others to help folks continue with their education.”