Bonnie Schmidt is the first to describe herself as an average Ohioan. Born, raised and educated in Northeast Ohio, she, like so many others, found stable employment in two solid regional industries, manufacturing and banking. As a bookkeeper, Bonnie had no trouble finding jobs with strong locally-owned companies.
That was until 2007, when her banking company employer cut her department. One year later, her job with a family-owned manufacturer of large construction equipment ended when the company laid off half its workforce.
For Bonnie, new industries in Northeast Ohio offered opportunities once unimagined. One month after losing her job, Bonnie joined Echogen Power Systems Inc., an Akron company that makes an engine that recycles heat energy. Echogen is a portfolio company of Fund grantee JumpStart.
“I still work in bookkeeping, but for the first time I’m outside of the bank or manufacturing environment. I couldn’t dream of a better job,” Bonnie says. “I like knowing that being part of a ‘green’ company means we’re investing in the future and that we’re helping customers become better corporate citizens.”
The employment challenges Bonnie faced have led her to change her views about our region’s future. “I now know that future job creation and stability isn’t coming from the traditional big companies of the past. It’s coming from the entrepreneurs and visionaries like Echogen who are using a trained and talented workforce in new and exciting ways.”
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