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Demand for Workers is Growing

Monday, April 29, 2019

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Business owners and managers in Polk County point out that there is a shortage of qualified workers to fill their open positions.  ‘Help Wanted’ ads are posted in windows, newspapers, and on the internet.  These businesses are forced to commit extra time and resources to not only recruit new workers, but to keep their current ones from seeking employment elsewhere.

The ‘good news’ of this dilemma is that it reflects the success of our businesses.  They are meeting the current needs of their customers and, as a result, their products and services are growing in demand.  They now would like to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ if only they had the human resources necessary to ramp up output.

In a recent study coming from the Wisconsin Counties Association, it is confirmed that the shortage of workers in Wisconsin is real and needs addressed immediately.  The problem is stated clearly, “Wisconsin has too few young people to replace retiring baby boomers over the next 15 years, so the state must turn to migration to grow its workforce.”  This issue is not unique to Wisconsin.  Most U.S. states are battling the same challenge.

The Polk County Economic Development Corporation is bullish on the County’s business future and are confident we can meet the workforce challenge.  In fact, we are already supporting efforts to build our homegrown talent, as well as attracting workers from Minnesota and surrounding areas.

Areas of focus that will help develop and keep our homegrown talent include 1.  Improved technical education programs in our high schools, 2.  Greater utilization of the Youth Apprenticeship program, 3.  Expanded broadband internet service, and 4.  Increased awareness of job opportunities.  Regarding the later, each week there are 9000 workers that drive out of Polk County to work elsewhere.  It is my opinion that they may be surprised at job opportunities here at home and would consider ending their long daily commute.

In addition, we are currently developing an expansive marketing campaign that will highlight the many benefits of living, working and playing in Polk County.  It will target people who grew up in the area and moved away or those currently in the metro area who desire a better quality-of-life, cost of living, and a more personal educational system.  These people long for the lifestyle we can offer, but they are not aware of our job and career opportunities.

There is no easy or fast solution to narrow the gap between jobs and workers, but I believe we are in a good position to do something about it.  We have great people and great opportunities…in a county that is blessed with over 400 lakes.  The cost-of-living compared to the Cities and St. Croix County is favorable.  And the expanding ‘quality of life’ opportunities make Polk County a great place to live, work, and play.  By ‘keeping’ more of our young people, increasing awareness of those who currently commute, and recruiting some who would benefit from our lifestyle we can help Polk County grow in a responsible and productive manner.

The Polk County Economic Development Corporation is a public-private organization that was created to encourage and promote economic development and capital investment, create and retain quality jobs, enhance the tax base and facilitate positive sustainable growth throughout Polk County, Wisconsin.

Polk County Economic Development Corporation
100 Polk Plaza
Suite 226
Balsam Lake, WI  54810
(715) 405-3400

Category: PCEDC Blog