Shearer’s Lands Tax Credit, Expects to Add 130 Jobs – The Ohio Tax Credit Authority has approved a Job Creation Tax Credit for Shearer’s Foods, enabling the snack food manufacturer to create 130 full-time jobs. The tax credit agreement states that Shearer’s must maintain its Massillon operations for at least 11 years. The plan for Shearer’s expansion and growth is expected to generate $3,901,872 in new annual payroll and retain $19,957,558 in existing payroll by December 2019. Because the Job Creation Tax Credit is performance-based, the value of the tax credit value will depend on the actual number of jobs created and new payroll generated. Mark Schwerdtfeger, Shearer’s vice president of communication and community affairs stated, “We made a lot of things for a lot of people and sometimes we are asked to expand certain things. We will continue to expand and grow a lot of different brands.” Full story.

Merger of Huntington and FirstMerit to Create Banking Giant in Ohio – Huntington Bancshares, based in Columbus, will buy FirstMerit Corporation, based in Akron, in a cash/stock deal worth $3.4 billion, giving the combined company nearly $100 billion in assets. The deal should be completed by Q3 of this year. The merger will create Ohio’s largest bank by deposits. Huntington’s chairman and chief executive Stephen D. Steinour stated that “both organizations already understand the needs and goals of our Midwestern customers and communities.” Paul Greig, chairman, president and chief executive of FirstMerit, added that continued community involvement will help Midwest markets grow and the transition will be as seamless as possible for all customers. Full story.

SARTA Breaks Ground on Hydrogen Fuel Station – To meet the needs of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority’s seven fuel-cell buses that will be in operation by the end of 2017, SARTA broke ground last month on a hydrogen fuel station—the largest of its kind outside of California. With completion expected mid to late 2016, the hydrogen station is another advancement for SARTA to benefit its riders, taxpayers and the environment by using more efficient, cleaner-burning fuels at low prices. This, along with Stark State College’s dynamic Fuel Cell Prototyping Center, could put Start County at the epicenter of future development in the state. Full story.

Stark State Hosts Grand Opening of its Gateway Center – Stark State College officials want to encourage prospective students to get the skills they need for the jobs they want. The school’s new Gateway Center will eliminate many of the obstacles students face when beginning a career path. The center houses admissions, registration, financial aid, advising, veteran’s services, and career and workforce development services. Businesses are also invited to use the center to interview students who are prospective employees. The $2 million Gateway Center includes a 10,500-square-foot addition to the college’s existing Business and Entrepreneurial Building and a renovated 4,000 square-foot space on the first floor of the building. President Para Jones said, “We’re putting career development at the very front end of a new student experience here at Stark State. As students continue through with their education, we will continue to check in on what is the career goal of that student.” Full story.

Walsh Students Open Doors of Business Innovation Center – In the tradition of Apple and Microsoft, the Garage was launched by a group of students who transformed a room previously filled with odds and ends. The Garage gives students the space to turn their ideas into something tangible. Officially it’s the Walsh University Innovation Center, but the room was completely designed by students and is very innovative: dry-erase paint on three walls, power strips that can be pulled down from the ceiling, electric whiteboard and monitors—it’s a place for mentoring, networking and educational opportunities. Because entrepreneurship is not confined to a certain scholastic major, students from all backgrounds are welcome to share their ideas and perspectives and foster collaboration. Full story.

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