Workforce issues are changing the focus of economic development efforts in the North Platte Valley, according to executives with Twin Cities Development. While past efforts have focused on creating jobs, the area now abounds with employers looking for ‘well-qualified’ employees. During the organization’s annual membership meeting on Thursday, newly elected board President Brenda Darnell, who served as vice president of the board last year, said she is excited to be serving on the board and is looking forward to more development in the valley.
“From an economic perspective in the community, I think that we have a lot of challenges and a lot of opportunities,” she said. “We’ve done some things that are a little more creative, this last year, as opposed to traditional economic development, and I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to support and continue those projects.”
Darnell said there is no magic wand to produce instant manufacturing and everything takes time to develop.
In addition, she said while many believe that this area shouldn’t rely only on agriculture, she believes agriculture should continue to be developed but not be the sole source of jobs.
“We do need to continue to support (agriculture) but I think there are a lot of opportunities that we have, with the work ethic people in this region possess, and that does give us the opportunity to pursue other businesses outside of agriculture,” said Darnell. While she couldn’t be specific, Darnell said, there are a number of projects being worked on.
“We’ve had different inquiries from companies that are outside of the agriculture area; sometimes those come to fruition, sometimes we put a lot of work into the background and they don’t. We always try to learn from the experience if we finish up in second.”
During the meeting, it was discussed that worker shortage is critical in some local industries.
Darnell said TCD is trying to assist with that with its new web site desinged to help employers find employees as well as those in the work force who are trying to find the right job.
Other board members elected include Eileen Ely as vice president and Howard Olsen as secretary/treasurer.
The group also recognized the work of outgoing board members Own Palm, Stan Walker and Steve Olsen.
TCD Director Rawnda Pierce said she believes that the overall picture of economic development in the valley continues to develop
However, the question on many people’s minds: When?
“We have projects going on all the time and we are always trying to diversify,” Pierce said.”…We have some projects that are in the works that would be different from call center jobs.
“We are always trying to up the standard and employment base so that people have different jobs to go to but we are working on (bringing in new jobs) constantly.”
~by Roger Holsinger, Assistant Editor
Star Herald News