All four forum panelists – Allan Crary and Gillian Haley-Meierbachtol, of Haley Construction; Teri Drew, regional director of the Northern Arizona Council of Governments (NACOG); and Richard Hernandez, director of the Regional Economic Development Center at Yavapai College – provided an in-depth look at the evolving regional workforce.
Emphasizing the need for proactive approaches and new strategies, the speakers told the breakfast audience that both public and private sector employers were seeking solutions for what seems to be a diminishing workforce.
While moderating the panel discussion, PVEDF Executive Director Mike Paredes explained that he was in frequent contact with existing and potential companies and organizations interested in expanding to the Quad Cities. “I can assure you of this: The question that commonly opens any discussion is, ‘What kind of qualified workforce is available in your community?’ That’s especially true of any outside business looking to relocate or expand to this area.”
Panelists Share Visions
Teri Drew from NACOG shared a three-minute video that emphasized the need for workforce development for every business, no matter whether it is a global company or a small, hometown operation.
“My staff and I get to interact with mayors and officials from 24 communities in the four counties where NACOG has influence. Believe me, all have the same request, that we help them solve the workforce issue. Everyone has a need for solid, well-trained and committed workers.”
Drew was echoed by the two executives from the 64-year-old Haley Construction Company. Vice President Gillian Haley-Meierbachtol said at all levels of the company – general, commercial, residential and historical construction – the firm needed skilled personnel. “We’ll do all we can to assist employees with training experiences and opportunities, good benefits including health care, competitive wages, sustainable housing and certainly when appropriate, identification of good schools and child care facilities.”
Haley President Allan Crary said opportunities for good careers exist at all levels of the company. “One of our challenges is replacing those who are retiring, people who have been with us for years and have really solid and loyal commitments to the company. We now need a younger workforce who can succeed such people. But we’re finding that so many youth are not prepared to enter the workforce. We’ve just got to consider more practical training for these incoming workers.”
Hernandez said the Regional Economic Development Center (REDC) he directs is constantly seeking new opportunities to develop public-private partnerships. He detailed some of the resources the REDC makes available throughout Yavapai County. Among those were regional economic and policy analysis, economic impact and contribution analysis, customized job training, entrepreneurial education opportunities and Native American economic development.
“We want businesspeople throughout the county to realize that Yavapai College is their college. They can come to us and we will do all we can to help develop new solutions and new strategies,” Hernandez said.
An intense question and answer session followed the panel discussion. Most questions focused on how groups and organizations can work together to inform the public, especially the Millennial generation (defined as those currently between the ages 21 and 37), of not just workforce needs but also current workforce opportunities.
Peter Bourgois, chair of the PVEDF, concluded the program by asking people to share the information they had gained from the forum. “People like you – our local business, civic, community and political leaders – can make a difference by letting others know of the opportunities to assist in workforce development. Tell others of the tremendous assets we have in the Quad Cities area and of the opportunity to serve strong business and economic growth.” QCBN
By Ray Newton, QCBN
For more information about the Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation, contact Mike Parades at 928-775-0032 or visit pvedf.com.