Green jobs may well be the wave of Licking County's future.

Green jobs may well be the wave of Licking County's future.

Preparing the workers of tomorrow for a new emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly practices is the goal of the fifth annual Licking County Workforce Summit, scheduled from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16.

The event, which is being held at the new Pataskala campus of Central Ohio Technical College, features Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission executive director Chester Jourdan as its keynote speaker.

"(Jourdan) will be talking about that view of why it's important to prepare the workforce for sustainability practices in how we work and how we live," said Julie Maurer, Pataskala campus administrator for COTC.

Maurer, a member of the summit planning committee, knew Jourdan would be a good choice for key speaker when she heard him talk about biomass and alternative energy.

"I had never really considered that opportunity for agribusiness," Maurer said. "Just the fact that he saw that connection and since then, there's a lot of agriculture-related entities are making that connection between those opportunities that exist."

Maurer said the summit has typically drawn 120 people - including local business, education, industry and governmental leaders. Following the keynote address, attendees will have time to attend three of the four breakout sessions offered.

A panel of manufacturers will discuss green manufacturing strategies. Hard Hatted Women, which was founded in Cleveland and encourages women who are interested in pursuing trade and technical careers, will lead another session.

Other breakout sessions will be led by the Licking County STEM initiative and the U.S. Green Building Council.

AEP and other companies will prepare exhibits on their green initiatives, and distribution company ProLogis will discuss its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified building in Etna Corporate Park.

"It's really quite a variety of different modes of information about this cross section that is green workforce and sustainability in the workplace," Maurer said.

"It's all about preparing the workforce for the jobs that are emerging in Licking County - both existing and future jobs," she said.

An additional benefit of the summit? Networking opportunities and communication between employers and educators.

"We hope that they will have a more in-depth understanding of what is happening currently in the realm of green jobs and sustainable business practices," she said.

"This is a great opportunity to learn more about what is currently going on in their sectors in terms of sustainability practices, and also provide feedback to educators in regard to what their specific needs are and what they can do in this realm to help prepare folks for the jobs that will be available."

Registration for the Licking County Workforce Summit costs $15. Registration forms are available from Maurer at jmaurer@cotc.tec.oh.us.