DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — On Wednesday, Montgomery County unveiled a new Employment Opportunity Center in the Westown Shopping Center that will serve thousands of West Dayton residents.

“Westown was canceled out, I guess you can say,” said Daj’za Demmings, President of Dayton Young Black Professionals. “There wasn’t anything here so to bring things back to the community where a lot of people are, where the most registered voters are in West Dayton this is a big deal,” she said.

The new EOC will provide residents of West Dayton, Jefferson Township, New Lebanon, Trotwood and other nearby communities with a new place to obtain job search help, funding for training and space for community events.

“Across the county right now there are over 20,000 jobs that need to be filled, and we need people to do that,” said Michael Colbert, Montgomery County Administrator.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony, county leaders said the new facility, built in a former grocery store at 4303 W. Third St., will help eliminate transportation barriers.

“This facility is an investment in our residents,” said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge. “It will make many of our services easier to access for those located in the West Dayton, Montgomery County corridor.”

“Having a job that provides a livable wage gives so much more than money to pay bills. It can also give a great deal of pride and self-worth,” said County Commissioner Deborah Lieberman.

Others said it’ll help eliminate poor communities. “Poor is an acronym. It means passes over opportunities repeatedly, and that’s why it’s so important to have this here,” said Marlon Shackleford, a community activist.

The center will house more than county services. Miami Valley CTC will hold training from its Aspire program, aimed at educating adults for high school equivalency credentials, and Sinclair is subleasing space inside the facility to have training from their Computer and Information Systems Department. The Male Leadership Academy, and a forthcoming Female Leadership Academy youth mentorship program will also operate in the EOC.

“Both of those programs are guided by professionals that allow our young people to get an opportunity to express themselves, but also to try to help guide them through life,” Colbert said.