Monthly Archives: March 2017

Change

It’s been a little over half a year since I started at the Chamber.  Some days it seems like just yesterday and some days it feels like forever ago.  My first few months on the job were a blur – that happens with most new jobs I suppose.  But it seems like every time I feel like I have my feet firmly underneath me and am ready to take that next step forward, something gives me a pause.

In 1789, Benjamin Franklin was credited as writing “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.  I would add change.  Eight months in now and all I can say is that my one constant at the Chamber is that it is always changing.  As creatures of habit, we resist change.  But if you think about it, even nature teaches us change.  The warm weather has allowed my kids to play outside at length (notwithstanding a little mud!).  Change of seasons, change of leadership, change in laws, change in staff, change in volunteers, change, change, change!

But for all this change, all the things that seem to just pop up, I almost kind of expect it now.  Or at the very least I am not surprised anymore.  Life has a way of teaching you.  And now, every time something changes, I just have to smile.  Sometimes I even chuckle to myself.  As predictable as the seasons, things change.  I see change all around – and not just because it’s spring.  This week, the sun warms my face and lifts my mood.  It reminds me that change, while sometimes unwelcomed, is good –like spring weather after a long winter.

Change your perspective. Embrace the change or at least learn to smile at it.

The only permanent thing is change.  I’m glad I can count on it.

-Janna

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Workforce Needed!

Increasingly, we are looking at a workforce shortage.  Particularly with skilled labor and in the energy industry.  It has been suggested that we look to bring others to Western North Dakota.  To market our area and to let others know what we already know:  that it is a great place to live and work.  And perhaps we will need to.  But, right here in our own backyard is a pool of potential candidates – or should I say will be within a few short years!  The growing school district enrollment and birth rates in the Williston Area in the past few years is proof of it.  Those being born here and going to school here will be one of our best workforce supply options in the future.  Even now, though, Williston State College and TrainND has an integral hand in shaping, educating, and training our next generation of employees.

The WSC Alumni Association is being revamped and it couldn’t be better timing in my opinion.   Their new director, Hunter Berg, is kicking off Alumni Week this year April 24th– 28th.   What better way to keep students connected to the community than to bring them back!  Showing them the vast opportunities right here in Teton Territory.  The Alumni Association helps support academic areas of the college (the Math and Science Department and student scholarships each year for example) and this helps attract and keep good quality students who can turn into good quality employees.

Like I said, good timing – just a month after a multi-industry job fair – Alumni Week may be able to tout not only fun events but also showcase the community and the ample job opportunities.  The WSC Alumni week’s final event will be a ‘Lucky Duck Race’ which they plan to make an annual event.  Everyone has a chance to be involved.  Businesses, adults, and kids alike.   Rules and information and entry forms for the race can be found here.  It will be on April 28th at 2pm at the ARC’s Lazy River.

I have already written and blogged about the opportunity for skilled jobs and the importance of a skilled and educated workforce for our businesses.  Our new member benefit, the Chamber Business Academy, (the partnership with TrainND and the Chamber) works to advance and keep our workforce current.  WSC does as well.  I look forward to the duck race next month.  I also look forward to seeing how the WSC Alumni Association unfolds to support our workforce.  You may want to check it out yourself – you might just get ‘lucky’ and win a race!

-Janna

Jobs and Activity

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.

-Janna

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