One year ago, we kicked off a major initiative to solve a regional workforce gap in the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo community (catch up on that HERE). In collaboration with the Economic Development Corporation, Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, the FM Area Foundation and the United Way of Cass-Clay, along with investors, volunteers and committees, the past year has been dedicated to digging into the recommendations that consultants TIP Strategies provided us.
Individuals were separated into four different groups, each one dedicated to one of the four study pillars: cultivate, attract, build and innovate. Over the past year, these groups have met to not just evaluate the suggested strategies, but come up with more ideas and action items to start implementing them. The result was a 30-page action plan that was unveiled to all at the event on June 30, 2016.
— Career FM (@CareerFM) June 30, 2016
Interestingly, there were a couple strong themes from each committee. These were to have consistent messaging and to develop a central clearinghouse website that would contain all relevant information on the community.
To achieve this, a RFP will be sent out this month, the firm will be selected in August, and we plan to begin work on it in September.
— Kriss Burns (@Krissburns) June 30, 2016
To build more awareness to attract workers, we’ll capitalize on social media and feature short videos that promote the area (such as THIS one) and utilize the EDC’s Social Toaster program, as well as engage with alumni networks and work on welcome kits.
One thing that has already been done from the study was a winter festival, which was hosted by the CVB in January, and we’re proud to see how big of a success the Frostival was.
— United Way Cass-Clay (@UnitedWayFargo) June 30, 2016
The Build group has been focusing on removing barriers in transportation, housing and childcare to make it easier for those in the lower-income ranges to be able to work. The F-M Area Foundation has already made efforts in housing, and is looking at hosting a housing summit for builders, developers and planners to finance more multi- and single-family housing units. They’ve also been able to revive a local homebuyer education program that previously had been cut.
Next steps for this group will be to lobby state and city planners and kick off a housing collaborative.
Also a part of the Build pillar, the United Way has been pushing for more and better child care in the region. The three tactical ideas they’ve been working most on are employer-supported child care co-ops, scholarships for working families and encouraging conversations with state legislators to increase child care spots.
As far as the Innovate pillar, two areas were identified: a central job listing and information site and a solution forum. For the former, we’re looking at integrating with 1 Million Cups’ already successful live job board; and for the latter, an event in which we’d challenge individuals to come up with ideas to solve specific regional issues over a weekend, provide incentives and pick a winner.
We know that continuing to make and show our progress in these workforce efforts is critical, and we look forward to really getting to work now that our action plan has been identified.
At the update event, John Richman of NDSCS also spoke up on of using area higher education systems to further attract workers to the region. However, the problem he says is with out-of-state tuition that detracts people from coming here, and is encouraging support of a modified tuition model.
*Update as of August 2017: We recently hosted an Eggs & Issues event to learn more about the Career Academy, which is designed to help address one of the key issues in our workforce shortage. Learn more in this blog recap.
If you’d like to get involved in these workforce efforts, please contact any of the five organizations.
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