I feel like the blizzard yesterday took a little wind out of my sails which is kind of ironic considering the 50-60 mph winds. Actually, it was a refreshing pause to the non-stop action I’ve felt here at the Chamber. We barely had our Annual Banquet under our belt, when the momentum of January 20th roared us all the way into March. Reflecting back, I didn’t get to see much of President Trump’s inauguration that day. We were busy making sure we had all the details taken care of for our Annual Banquet. As I remember the inspiring speaker, the well-deserved awards, and the cooperation of the weather that day, I can tell that it was a turning point for our area. I doubt it had as much to do with our speaker or the weather as it did with the changing of the guards in administrations. Maybe it was just good timing.
Since then, the federal support of the energy industry sparked the confidence our area businesses needed to invest again in our growth. Job Service of ND shows clear evidence of this. In the month of February, four different energy companies hosted their own job fairs locally. People who may have been laid off are being called back to work. On March 22nd, Job Services’ Multi-Industry Job Fair will host over 60 companies (booths have sold out this year way in advance than any other year). These companies, plus those on the wait list are looking for more than an estimated 1500 jobs. Right now, the energy industry comprises over 35 % of the employers at the job fair who were looking to fill the majority of the available jobs. Jobs in retail, healthcare, manufacturing, and service are also among those sought after as well. Skilled labor is in high demand and employers are looking for quality people.
It seemed like a whirlwind of activity the last month and a half and the blizzard offered me a chance to breathe (which reminds me of a new app, by the way, that a friend told me about). We should all remember to breathe. Because as our area continues its inevitable growth, businesses and employers will continue to face workforce challenges along the way. Even if you are not one of the booths at the job fair on March 22nd, no doubt you will at some point have a need for new employees. It’s as predictable as the seasons. And even if you have full staff for the foreseeable future, there may be employee issues on the horizon waiting to come your way. As employers, you need to constantly be improving the way you do business, particularly when it comes to human resources. That is why the Chamber along with The Dakotan Motel are sponsoring the lunch offered to employers at the job fair. We are opening up limited seating for our members who can benefit from the information and Q&A session provided by the panel. Hear from experts in Workforce and Safety & Insurance, Department of Labor, Unemployment Insurance, and Job Service.
I was just getting used to the weekend without having to wear a jacket and making travel plans without consulting the weather channel. But the deep breath and the change in plans the blizzard afforded me was just what I needed to gear up to be flexible and busy again. Our regional economy is energized and poised for the growth and activity that we know is here and will be here for our children’s children. But it won’t be without challenges. At the Chamber, we will stay busy supporting the businesses and encouraging a workforce that benefits the various industries that make Northwest North Dakota a great place to live and work. Williston was once called the ‘city of opportunity’. Joseph W. Jackson, one of Williston’s first mayors wrote “Williston has arrived and her future is brighter and far more certain than ever”. This statement couldn’t be more true today considering that the whole region continues to be a place of opportunity…without an end in sight.