Local businesses and manufacturing companies have spoken. Workforce development is needed to meet their growing needs. As more skilled employees are needed, additional workforce needs have come to the surface. Clarke County Development (CCDC), in collaboration with Southern Iowa Council of Governments (SICOG), Southwestern Community College (SWCC) and Clarke Community School District (CCSD), are hard at work to address these needs.
CCDC has over 50 years of experience working to help businesses thrive. CCDC’s purpose is to attract new business and help existing businesses expand. They are a membership organization supported by local manufacturers and other local businesses. To fulfill its purpose, CCDC is taking a close look at the current needs given by local manufacturers. The top essential needs expressed by the manufacturing community are related to workforce. A number of efforts have been made to help address one of the needs… workforce housing. An additional 62 residential building permits, which include single-family homes and duplexes, have been issued by the City of Osceola since 2014. Additional market-rate housing projects are being considered in future developments as well.
Current efforts are underway to help expand workforce development in Clarke County. Skilled workers are a necessity for local manufacturers. Tom Kober of Salford states,
” A training center could address CNC programming skills we currently struggle to find in the area. Finding this talent is very difficult, but if we had facility where we could train existing employees the needed skills we would be able to fill these roles with quality internal candidates. Internal growth is big focal point on our company objectives and strategies. Training is the key.”
CCDC would like to build a workforce to meet these growing needs. A natural progression to achieving this is building a training center. CCDC recently visited the Iowa West Training Center (IWTC) in Council Bluffs, IA to see what practices they have in place for workforce creation. SWCC’s new president, Dr. Welch, was instrumental in the beginning stages of the IWTC built in 2017 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The 10,000 square foot, two-story building houses classrooms upstairs and labs downstairs. The labs are filled with training equipment relevant to the kind of work needed in factories and manufacturing shops. The labs include bays for a variety of different training programs including plasma and laser cutters, carpentry, CNC routers, robotics, electrical wiring, plumbing, welding, truck driving, and more. The IWTC is currently expanding its facility to handle the high needs of their region.
CCDC, with the support of local membership, is looking to create a similar center in Osceola. The local manufacturing and business membership would own the new training facility. Representation and support from local CCDC member companies is essential to its success. The proposed Osceola Training Center would be a 10,000 sq. ft. building with an additional atrium located adjacent to SWCC’s Osceola campus. It would house lab bays similar to those at the IWTC.
Dr. Welch states, “Southwestern Community College is very excited about our collaboration and partnership with CCDC to create a new regional training facility dedicated to developing technical skills which will serve both our local workforce needs and prepare our future workforce.”
Classroom space would be available at the existing SWCC building, allowing space at the training center to be used for hands-on lab experience. Many of the proposed classes will result in certifications. Funding for the center is being pursued with the help of the Southern Iowa Council of Governments (SICOG) Executive Director Timothy Ostroski.
Ostroski stated, “This new regional training facility for Osceola, Clarke County and all of the surrounding counties will have a far reaching economic impact. When completed, it will assist individuals from high school, post-secondary facilities, existing businesses, and manufacturer each year as well as into the future.”
Ostroski is applying for a grant from the Department of Commerce – Economic Development Administration (EDA) under the Economic Adjustment Assistance Program (EAA). The EDA’s mission is to lead the Federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for economic growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA’s Public Works and EAA programs provide economically distressed communities and regions with comprehensive and flexible resources. Ostroski states,” The public works/economic adjustment assistance program application is of utmost importance to the future of the Southern Iowa Economic Development District (SICOG).”
The 20% local match required for the grant will come from CCDC, who will house their offices in the building and operate the facility. Dr. Welch of SWCC and Superintendent Alan Dykens of CCSD would be responsible for the curriculum and SICOG would assist in grant writing for the project. If approved, construction of the potentially regional center could begin as early as next year. Dykens stated that the current industrial arts classes at Clarke Schools would likely use the new facility as well. Dykens said,
” Surrounding districts are currently bussing students for different training programs. This project may result in regional partnerships with surrounding districts to offer skilled training to our high school students. This would prepare them for the competitive workforce opportunities available in the future”.
CCDC is a 501(c)(6) corporation made up of local companies. Bill Trickey, Executive Director of CCDC, states,
” Our local companies make up our membership. They would be the owners and the driving force for this facility”.
At their October board meeting, the CCDC board of directors approved the pursuit of grant funding for this project. The key to success will be the support of the manufacturing community and the interest of students to improve their skills to meet the workforce needs. Ostroski said,
“Ultimately, the completion of the project will result in both short- term and long-term job creation. The Southern Iowa Council of Governments supports this project because of the tremendous economic impact that will result for this area.”
If you have questions or would like more information based on this article, please reach out to the Clarke County Development Corp, Bill Trickey, Executive Director, Phone:641-342-2944, email: [email protected].