Power Connect Taking Different Approach to Economic Development

There’s a lot of development happening in Columbus. There’s a reason why organizations like Columbus 2020 exist. While development often focuses on the end-goal of what will be built or how many jobs it will bring, there’s some important things that are happening along the way.

“From an economic development standpoint, when electricians are working, odds are a whole bunch of other people are too,” says Kelly Waters, director of Power Connect.

Waters heads up the newly developed consortium of local electrical contractors that are addressing the region’s growth further upstream.powerconnectlogo

The idea for Power Connect developed out of a series of meetings when electrical contractors from a broad swath of Central Ohio came together, “To try to figure out how they could become more involved in helping promote the region’s economy,” Waters says.

As she describes it, electricians tend to be plugged into the decision matrix. They know the kinds of projects that are coming to the area, and what development might be a good fit for a certain community. And, with many of the companies being small, independently owned family businesses, there was also the realization that the sum could be greater than the parts.

“Everyone coming together around a common message and common voice, they can promote that and become involved in the community,” Waters says.

Power Connect is helping electricians find work, but not in the way many might think. It’s not a clearinghouse for assignments. And they’re not necessarily trying to create their own projects, either.

“We made it very clear we were not trying to start something new or replace anything existing,” Waters says. Instead, they are there to help in any way they can to promote growth and economic development.

That help comes in the form of advising companies on new products and generally providing technical expertise.

“Another regional priority is workforce development,” Waters says. “Electricians have some of the best training in the world.” Power Connect promotes the electrical field as a safe and attractive technical vocation.

Overall, “The goal is to impact and help support economic vitality in the region that will result for more jobs for everyone including electricians,” Waters says.

So far, Power Connect has been met with positive reception, building a network of about 50 contracting firms, all of whom are members of the National Electrical Contractors Association, totaling nearly 1,400 individual technicians. The organization is still young so they’re figuring out their piece in the development puzzle, but they have already developed a partnership with Columbus 2020.

For more information, visit powerconnect.org.