Jill Scicchitano and Leighton Johnson

The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership has promoted Jill Scicchitano to chief operating officer. She previously served as director of industry growth where she focused on advancing regional employment in higher pay traded industry clusters by providing business support and improved infrastructure for the region’s growing companies and industries. Since 2018, she has worked directly with the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership’s Industry Growth advisory committee and local economic development organizations, as well as municipal, county, and state leaders to develop and implement key strategies.

As COO, in addition to continuing to lead Industry Growth strategies, Scicchitano will oversee Education and Workforce strategies and assume organizational management activities for the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead as COO at a very important time for the region,” says Scicchitano. “As we move into a new stage of growth, I look forward to working with the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership team pursuing continuous improvement and operational excellence empowering the organization to be the best we can be. I am excited to support our partners and stakeholders working diligently to chart a course for the region that will continue to benefit businesses, residents, and ultimately, our communities.”

Also, Leighton Johnson has been promoted to senior director for workforce solutions. In this role, he will lead the further implementation and scaling of portfolio of projects tied to enhancing the workforce development and talent pipelines within the advanced industry, manufacturing, and STEM employment sectors. In addition to increasing employer engagement and workforce participation, Johnson will develop strategies for sustainability of the LIFT Network applied learning programs. Since joining the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership in 2019, Leighton has led the design and development of various key LIFT Network applied learning and digital workforce skills programs, including a Postsecondary STEM Internship Program, a U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Program model, and the South Bend – Elkhart Digital Skills Accelerator Fund.

“I am thrilled to continue this critical work of supporting the development of the South Bend – Elkhart regional workforce,” says Johnson. “With a labor force of approximately 275,000 individuals, reports have shown that key MSAs in our region show as high as 50% occupation automation susceptibility. Continued efforts and resources will need to grow as we adapt employer-led workforce solutions that move workers out of jobs that will be automated away and into new, smart occupations that will grow as firms further embrace digital adoption.” 

The LIFT Network serves as a collaborative industry advancement partnership between the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership and the University of Notre Dame.

“The work done by Jill and Leighton is critical to the success of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership team and to advancing the region’s economic development strategies,” says South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership President and CEO, Regina Emberton. “I am confident that in their new roles, they will continue to have a positive impact on our efforts to grow the regional economy.​​​​”

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