As no surprise, Summit County's economy was the main focus of the State of the County address during the Akron Press Club luncheon this afternoon.
More than 500 people attended the event, which was held at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.
In his speech, Summit County Executive Russ Pry challenged Akron-area employers to create and expand their programs to keep young professionals in the area to enhance the local economy.
"I am announcing an internship program called Summit County Intern Experience, because I want to give college students the same kind of experience I had," he explained.
This year the County will provide 10 internships for students to help give young people an opportunity to get their foot in the door.
During the speech, Pry recalled a time where an internship with former Congressman John Seiberling opened doors for him in 1980 when he was an undergrad at Kent State University.
"I want this to be an experience that will help them make informed career decisions and encourage them to stay here in Summit County."
He emphasized education as one of the driving forces to improving the county as a whole.
"Education is one of the most important things we can do for our children, and I l believe we must successfully move our children into adulthood giving them every possibility to have a good life by giving them a springboard of opportunity."
The County will partner with the University of Akron to work with students in a variety of fields.
He also mentioned training young people to develop "soft skills" such as effective communication, dressing appropriately, showing up on time, and workplace etiquette .
"I want to work with our educators and community service providers to identify programs that develop skills employers need and then create a list of young men and women who have proven themselves ready for the workplace."
Speaking on the economy, Pry says some aspects of the county's finances are improving as they continue to stabilize the budget.
But like every other local government agency in Northeast Ohio - despite some improvement, Summit County has its financial struggles..not just from local problems, but also from a loss in state funding .
"2011 was a tough year for us in local government, but we began to see improvement in our local economy as unemployment dropped and revenue increased," he said.
He said 2011 was another in a string of successive years that the County and its collaborative partners worked together to balance the budget.
"It is this kind of cooperation among our leaders that makes Summit County government unique, and supports the the notion that charter county government does work."
Since introducing Summit County's spending plan in December, the County has reduced its general fund spending by over $20 million a year and have reduced total county employment by over 500 employees.
Pry reminded those attending his State of the County speech that the county's levy supported agencies are also, in many cases, doing more with less funding .
"Voters approved a 6 year levy for the Summit County DD board and I can't thank them enough for that," he said. "The recognized the importance of what the DD board's mission is and continue to deliver important services with fewer resources."
In his speech, the Executive mentioned the passing of Susan Hamo, who served as the President of the Akron Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Susan Hamo loved this community and was our very best Ambassador of Hospitality," Pry said. "She will be missed."
Pry spoke of the leaders within Summit County, many of whom were in attendance and commended them for their dedication and team-first attitude.
"I am honored every day to sit at the table with men and women who know the value of collaboration and know how to work as a team when it best serves our community and its citizens," he explained.