CEO Dan Cunningham of The Cunningham Institute for Growth is helping to prepare students entering the workforce in Warren County by teaming up with the Warren County Foundation and the United Way of Warren County. CONTRIBUTED

Q&A: What this area native is doing to prepare local students for the workforce

The Cunningham Institute for Growth recently awarded a $10,000 Impact Grant, through the Warren County Foundation, to United Way of Warren County for its new Workforce Development Initiative.

The objective of the initiative is to build a network of talented high school students for in-demand jobs at Warren County businesses. The strategic alliance currently includes United Way, Franklin City Schools, Kings Local Schools, Wayne Local Schools, JBM Envelope, ADVICS and GMi Companies.

“We are delighted to supply the Impact Grant to begin building a collaborative pilot grassroots effort with United Way of Warren County to restore long-term three percent growth in Warren County. This initiative is designed to complement CIG’s work to establish a national goal and process to obtain three percent growth for ALL Americans,” said Daniel Cunningham, CEO, of Cunningham Institute for Growth.

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The program’s target audience is juniors and seniors not enrolled at the Warren County Career Center or attending college or a technical school full-time after graduation, but for those who will immediately enter the local workforce. Students will be identified by their district through an assessment. Instruction will be provided by certified teachers and United Way of Warren County’s Director of Workforce Initiatives. Participating companies will supplement the curriculum by providing exposure to job opportunities and pathways through in-class presentations, workplace tours and experiential learning opportunities.

By participating in the program, students will develop business communication skills, learn more about entrepreneurialism, and gain insights from participating employers, to name a few. The initiative is designed to provide high school students with information on various career options. Ultimately, students have an opportunity to become valuable, well-paid employees.

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and I went to the public schools here. My wife and I met in high school, and we moved away to New York for five or six years, but like many of us here, we moved back. That was over 30 years ago. I became involved in our family business, Long-Stanton Manufacturing Company, Inc., which was started in 1862 in Cincinnati. (www.longstanton.com). Today, I have an executive team that has the experience to run the business and I try to continue to add value to the business. Our son, Marvin wants to buy the business, and he would be the sixth-generation owner of Long-Stanton.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a leader?

A: The way I lead my organizations, for profit or nonprofit, is I have aspirational goals. Aspirational meaning they’ll be goals that are lofty. That’s me. Then, I will associate with the very best people, who buy into that vision, invite them to participate and begin to develop strategy. I’m very big on strategy to support lofty goals, so that everybody begins to understand what they need to do to reach that goal. I put that into practice at Long-Stanton, and at (the various) nonprofits that I’m involved with.

Q: What are some things you enjoy when you’re not working?

A: Faith and family for sure. Without faith and family, I couldn’t do the things we’re talking about. I read a lot. For a long time, I would read a book a week. It’s a little bit less now. I also enjoy downhill skiing. We go to New England at least once a year, and spend several days skiing with our family.

Q: Are Long-Stanton and CIG separate companies?

A: Long-Stanton is a separate company. That’s our family business and that’s my job. I’ve been CEO there for 20 years. There is a connection with CIG. I’ve seen over the last 15 years how our employees at my company are not benefitting from growth. We have low growth here in America. Our growth today is half of what it used to be. I began to see my employees were having a more difficult time. I increased prices to our customers, and I improved efficiencies, but still, our employees are having a hard time, and I finally realized it’s because our national growth is half of what it used to be. For example, between 1940 and the year 2000, our growth rate was 3.9 percent per year. But, for the last 15 (or so years,) our growth rate has been 1.8 percent. Our growth rate has been cut in half. So, the connection is I saw my own company, and my own employees having a harder time, so I began to study it back in 2013. That led me to spending a total of two years up at Harvard to study this problem, “Why is our growth rate so low, and how do we fix it?” …If we award our employees, it’s better for everybody. If employees do well, we’re all going to be fine. It’s a win-win. So, that’s the connection I saw. I thought, we must fix this, and then, I wanted to know how to fix it.

Q: Can you share a bit more about The Cunningham Institute for Growth, and tell us about the purpose of the Impact Grant?

A: The Cunningham Institute for Growth (CIG) has a national goal to restore long-term three percent growth for ALL Americans. The Institute’s model is two-fold, both a national goal and grassroots initiatives. The national goal is restoring long-term three percent growth for ALL Americans, including setting up the necessary processes to achieve this goal. At the same time, grassroots initiatives support the national goal by initiatives customized for specific communities and regions, typically involving collaborations with organizations located in these communities. The purpose of the Impact Grant is to fund and develop a grassroots pilot program with metrics over the next three years to grow and implement a pathway to restore long-term three percent growth for ALL Warren Countians. A further goal is that the pathway developed by this pilot will provide a laboratory for a beginning impetus for national grassroots efforts. This pilot program is expected to attract national attention to Warren County.

Q: Can you tell us more about the partnership and how you’re working together?

A: The United Way of Warren County (UWWC) Workforce Development (WDI) is a key component of the CIG goal of driving three percent national growth. Partnering with UWWC WDI allows CIG to study the effects of WDI, like that in a laboratory-like pilot environment and gain knowledge that could be transferred to other areas of it’s work and to help WDI improve. To maximize learning and to improve future efforts, WDI will apply and report appropriate metrics to measure the success of the program. CIG will help select metrics and publicize results. The data and metrics will help CIG meet its goal of scaling up this pilot to work with the federal government on a national grassroots program in three years (or sooner.)

Q: Can you give a couple practical examples of how The Cunningham Institute for Growth is working toward increasing growth?

A: The Cunningham Institute for Growth has a list of steps/activities all citizens, companies, and civic organizations can use to participate to increase our growth rate to three percent. The list is named “3 for 3%™,” because the coalition needs many active advocates, and participants are encouraged to complete three activities regularly.

Here are a few examples of what individuals/companies can do:

• Tutor/advise a child or adult on occupations for today and tomorrow’s economy.

• Help an infrastructure decision body determine how to prioritize projects in the best possible way to get the biggest return for the investment buck.

• Help a regulatory body review and streamed its regulations, i.e., regulations for daycare centers, and chemical plants.

• Help a tax authority design and ensure that its tax structure is fair.

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