How Communities Are Recruiting Workers

How Communities Are Recruiting Workers Main Photo

28 Dec 2021


Wyoming economic developers are asking, “How do we recruit workers to our communities?” There is no single answer because what works in one community may not be the right tool in another. Below are programs that have been successful in other communities. We encourage you to explore and try anything that you feel would be the best fit for your community’s needs. 

How Communities Are Recruiting Workers (these programs could be successful in Wyoming)

Reach Students Early

York Development Corporation in Nebraska hosts an annual Manufacturing Day to introduce high school students to local manufacturing companies and the jobs that are available. “There is often a false impression of what it’s like to work for a manufacturing company. The students we speak with are surprised by how high-tech companies are and how much opportunity there is to grow your career. In many cases, students will start after high school and then advance their careers through on-the-job training or by going to college, paid for by their company. Working for a York manufacturing company is an incredible opportunity and it’s important to highlight that,” said Lisa Hurley, Executive Director of York Development Corporation.

Rural Minnesota CEP promotes reaching students early through an innovative program called Big Ideas, a non-profit organization from New Ulm that provides opportunities to discover, explore and learn real-world trade skills. The organization offers in-person classes, but also has a “Roadshow,” which involves bringing their instruction to clients. The Mobile Learning Lab is a semi-trailer filled with three classrooms of immersive virtual reality systems that simulate welding, industrial painting, CAT excavation and an Oculus based career exploration program for over 20 trades simulations.

Recruit Talent by Paying for College

Forward Devils Lake in North Dakota has an excellent attraction tool - paying off student debt. Workers who move to the community can have up to $28k of their debt paid off. There are requirements for time on the job, with some of the debt being paid by employers and some by the community. “It’s an exciting opportunity for people to live and work in a beautiful place that’s surrounded by outdoor recreation, and to save money in the process,” said Brad Barth, Executive Director of Forward Devils Lake. This is a best practice for growing workforce that communities can implement - even on a small scale. It doesn’t have to be a large number to make an impact. Any student loan reduction could be a useful incentive. 

Develop Housing

Many communities have open jobs, but not enough residents. To make it possible for workers to move to the area, instead of commuting in for work, communities need to develop workforce housing. The Greater Fremont Development Council came up with a creative solution to do just that. They raised capital from local businesses and investors to create a fund that works as gap financing for developers. Over 1,000 housing starts have been the result. “We have secured major investments, such as the new Costco chicken processing plant, that has resulted in significant job growth. Ensuring people could live and work here have been a top priority of the community,” said Megan Skiles, Executive Director of the Greater Fremont Development Council. Not only is this a best practice for growing workforce, it’s also important for retaining people in the community who want new housing options.

Create Opportunities for People with Disabilities

Having a disability does not mean that people can’t work. Instead, workers may need an accommodation such as being able to use a piece of equipment or technology, working from home part of the time, etc. The National Disability Institute gave this presentation for Golden Shovel clients looking for tangible ways to engage people of all abilities in the workforce. In Ramsey County, Minnesota, employers are already benefiting from hiring people with disabilities. Merrick offers a full array of day services to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities and they also help to place talent. They work with 100+ businesses by facilitating the direct hire of clients to fill specific roles each business requires. A Merrick employment specialist provides resume development, interview practice, On-the-Job training, and intermittent support as needed to ensure the employee is meeting employer expectations.

Help Employers with Recruiting 

Recruitment support has long been a best practice for growing workforce, but some communities are going above and beyond. Montgomery County Ohio’s Job Center is the largest one-stop employment and training center in the United States and includes recruitment help, funding for training, and physical space in the Business Solutions Center. In addition to working directly with employers, they host job fairs throughout the year and have introduced a Workforce Mobile Unit. “This is a 38-foot Freightliner filled with the technology we need to connect people to jobs remotely,” said Garth McLean, Interim Director of Workforce Development. “We are using this to go out to businesses to help them hire, as well as taking it into communities to help people in their job searches.”

Solve Transportation Challenges

In Western Iowa, Midwest Industries, Inc. began offering a shuttle service in 2018 for its employees who live in the Denison and Schleswig areas. “We felt there was an opportunity to provide a service to our employees and to further help our recruiting efforts in the Denison area,” said Ogren. “With the help of Rita Frahm, President of the Ida County Economic Board, and Chris Whitaker with Region 12 Council of Governments, we were able to get a grant to help offset initial costs for employees and the company. Currently there are 28 employees signed up for the shuttle service. Prior to Covid, we had more than 50 shuttle riders.”

More Best Practices for Growing Your Workforce

For additional ideas, watch our webinar, Rethinking Workforce & Attraction. For help with your workforce attraction strategy and marketing, contact Golden Shovel Agency.