Walsh University and Strengthening Stark Host International Guests at Economic Development Conference

Walsh University and Strengthening Stark co-hosted the 360 One Firm (361Firm) Economic Development Conference on May 11, attracting professionals from across the globe to discuss topics related to economic development, sustainable manufacturing, and innovative workforce development strategies.  The conference was held at Walsh’s Marlene and Joe Toot Global Learning Center following a welcome and networking opportunity that included a tour and discussion of the Hall of Fame Village Project.

360 One Firm is an independent global platform for family offices, institutional investors, and thought leaders to collaborate on investments and philanthropic initiatives, which tours cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. The event was expanded to include the City of Canton and the North Canton campus after conference organizers recognized the innovative new programs and economic development opportunities spurred by Walsh University's Skilled Technical Workforce Program and the university’s Center for Scientific Excellence, a state-of-the-art fee-for-service research lab, both of which have been recognized by the National Science Board as "leading the nation."

During his opening remarks, Walsh University President, Dr. Tim Collins said that as higher education is changing, Walsh University is executing on a vision that was laid out in 2017 by Dr. Victor McCrary, Vice Chairman of the National Science Board, and has become part of Walsh’s 2035 strategic plan.

“What does higher education look like in 10 years?  Will we be able to distinguish between a university and a company? Should we be able to tell the difference? How do we transform undergraduate education to meet the changing and contemporary needs of our students? We’re asking these questions today in anticipation of meeting the needs of tomorrow,” Dr. Collins said. “We’re reevaluating our responsibility as an institution of higher education because we have the assets to do this. We’re building partnerships, a coalition of people who can come together to create learning opportunities as a continuous part of work. Universities that have figured this out are going to be in a much better place to serve America than those who are stuck doing things the same way they’ve always done it.”

Keeping with the topic of workforce preparedness, Dr. Victor McCrary elaborated on the challenges the nation faces to meet the demands of a technology-driven economy.   He went on to state that he was encouraged by the resurgence of Ohio’s economic development, particularly in the manufacturing sector. 

Dr. McCrary credited employers, business leaders and local and state governments for having the foresight to invest in the education and upskilling of the workforce to be more technology-proficient and prepared to meet the needs of the jobs that will emerge in the “Smart Manufacturing” model of the future.   He congratulated Walsh University for being at the center of the national conversation and leading the nation with innovative programs like the Skilled Technical Workforce Program.  Since its inception, Walsh University has enrolled over 70 Ohio companies and issued over 1,000 technology-based credentials. 

As an education provider for Ohio’s Tech Cred program, Walsh provides this impactful education at no out-of-pocket costs to the companies or their employees.  Mike Kahoe, from the Ohio Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation, who participated in the conference as a panelist, stated that Walsh University Skilled Technical Workforce Program was a model for how the Tech Cred Program was designed to work.

“Walsh University’s programs are the real deal.  What we learned in this training transformed how we run parts of our operations,” said Dennis Posity, Corporate Vice President at MAC Trailer, a national leader in specialized trailers, parts and services.

Rebecca Kuzma, Chief Operating Officer for Strengthening Stark, a community-wide organization of residents, businesses, government, nonprofits and philanthropists whose mission is to create a vibrant growing community that serves all of its citizens, also helped to facilitate the event and served on a panel to provide insight into how the organization was focused on their mission. 

Kuzma shared how Strengthening Stark collaborated with Walsh University on the Stark County Manufacturing Workforce Development Partnership to expand the training program to underserved populations and underemployed workers.  The results of that collaboration have led to over 70 local unemployed individuals enrolling in the program in the first two months and ongoing efforts to place participants who graduate from the program into meaningful jobs.

Other panels included discussions about renewal energy and sustainability and how Walsh University’s partnership with Shimadzu Scientific, the 2nd largest global manufacturer of high-end analytical science equipment, has led to Walsh University’s Center for Scientific Excellence, a fee-for-service science lab that has saved businesses in the manufacturing sector hundreds of thousands of dollars of costs associated with chemical and material analysis.  

The conference was an excellent opportunity for attendees to network with thought leaders from around the globe and learn about innovative approaches to economic development and workforce development strategies that have been catalyzed from within Stark County. Participants left the event with valuable insights and new connections that will help them shape the future of economic development across the state.

Dan Passerini, Ph.D., Executive Director of Cross-Enterprise Operations for Walsh University

Daniel Passerini, Ph.D., is a 1994 alumnus and Executive Director of Cross-Enterprise Operations for Walsh University.  In this role, he helps position Walsh University favorably in many strategic areas by expanding offerings for adult learners, building extensive community, regional and national relationships, and by generating revenue streams to support investment in programs, people and innovative initiatives. In addition, he oversees the President’s Advisory Board and assists the Office of Advancement on select projects. 

Prior to his appointment to Walsh University, Dr. Passerini has more than 20 years of corporate experience and community involvement.  His experience is comprised of managing and leading multiple successful businesses in a wide range of industries including a consulting firm that provided professional training services for Fortune 100 companies, an oil and gas drilling company, a startup drug development company and a logistics/trucking company. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from Walsh and his Doctorate of Biochemistry from The University of Akron. 

For more information about how Walsh University’s Skilled Technical Workforce Program and The Center for Scientific Excellence can support your business, please contact Dr. Passerini at 330-244-4746 or