AEP-OhioCANTON, OHIO (October 17, 2013)—ystark!, a department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, has received a Local Economic Advancement Program grant from AEP Ohio. The $10,000 grant will aid ystark!, in partnership with ArtsinStark, the County Arts Council, first in conducting a regional survey to identify the percentage of young professionals (YPs) working in Stark County, and then to connect with the identified YPs. The survey will target regional businesses to measure the YP percentage of their workforces, and that sample will be used to estimate YP workforce countywide. Upon completion of the survey, ystark! will conduct outreach tactics, including workplace presentations, professional development events and networking activities to further engage and develop the workforce. The goal is to increase ystark!’s current membership of 1,600 by at least 500 new members. As the membership grows, the overarching objective is to keep these engaged YPs in the area, and help both new and existing businesses recognize Stark County as an innovative and workforce-capable area for doing business. “We appreciate this grant opportunity from AEP Ohio and respect their dedicated support to our region's economic future,” said ystark! director Eric Smer. “This survey and process are a monumental step in our efforts to become a leading model of YP networks in Ohio, and to retain our community's young professionals and reinforce brain gain through the region.” AEP Ohio’s Local Economic Advancement Program grants support projects that promote the retention and attraction of manufacturing jobs and investment. Examples include programs and projects such as retention and expansion surveys, site feasibility studies, retaining existing industries, attracting new industries, conducting special studies, performing research and other creative uses. Grant projects must leverage additional funds from other sources, demonstrate joint participation from more than one group,, and provide benefits to an area or region, according to AEP Ohio program guidelines. The company awards grants of up to $10,000 for eligible projects. “We are pleased to be able to provide financial support to help facilitate economic development projects that help bring jobs and prosperity to local communities,” said Pablo Vegas, AEP Ohio president and COO. AEP Ohio has offered grants to local economic development organizations since 2005. To date, 186 grants totaling $569,675 have been awarded to support projects in communities and counties throughout the AEP Ohio service territory.

About ystark!

ystark! works to attract, retain and engage vibrant, energetic and diverse young professionals (YPs) in Stark County by collaborating with individuals, businesses and community organizations. The organization is dedicated to engaging and empowering YPs through networking, professional development, social and cultural events, civic involvement and philanthropy. These efforts will help to root YPs in the community and therefore retain them as productive citizens. ystark! continuously promotes Stark County as a desirable location for young professionals to live, work and play. ystark! is a department of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

About AEP Ohio

AEP Ohio serves nearly 1.5 million customers in Ohio and the northern panhandle of West Virginia. In Ohio, the company provides electricity to more than 920 communities located in 61 of the state’s 88 counties. In West Virginia, the company serves Ohio and Marshall Counties, providing service to approximately 41,000 customers. The company’s headquarters is in Gahanna, Ohio, with regulatory and external affairs offices in downtown Columbus. A subsidiary of America Electric Power and the largest of its regional utility divisions. AEP Ohio comprises Ohio Power Company and Wheeling Power.