N'West Iowa firms partner to find helpDecember 13, 2018
Eleven of N’West Iowa’s top manufacturers are doing something unusual to combat the region’s historically low unemployment: Working together.
Company representatives, economic developers, educators and more gathered at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon on Thursday, Nov. 29, to announce the launch of Northwest Iowa Regional Manufacturers Partnership.
Although this entity was addressed publicly Thursday for the first time, it has been in the works since July 2015.
Don Van Den Top, human resources director at Sioux Center-based Link Manufacturing and member of the partnership’s steering committee, noted action was necessary for the sake of all manufacturers in the area.
“The strong reason behind putting a collaborative effort together was really based on the collective being able to do more than the individual company,” he said. “I really believe strongly that this challenge that we’ve been facing — I’ve been in this industry 25 years — is going to be more prevalent as we look five, 10 years down the road and we just need to come together to address this challenge.”
Iowa had an unemployment rate of 2.4 percent in October — only the fifth time since 1976 it has been recorded this low — according to Iowa Workforce Development. The numbers were even lower in N’West Iowa, which had a collective 1.1 percent average in October.
The partnership’s initial action plan will focus on three areas, including partnering with NCC and other area educational facilities to develop focused-training programs.
The partnership wants to work with schools to help develop the next generation of employees for the region’s manufactures and to ensure they have the proper skill set to become valuable contributors.
To help with the that, the partnership hired Kristi Heisinger, a former Sheldon and Spirit Lake Rosenboom employee with 23 years of manufacturing experience.
Since being hired in June, she has visited all 17 N’West Iowa public and private schools to meet with administrators to build those relationships.
“From my observation, this is truly a unique partnership,” Heisinger said. “Most of all, because we’re focused on taking action; starting with creating my position as a career coach and partnership facilitator and now promoting great career opportunities.”
Heisinger will be based out of Sheldon and NCC set aside office space for her on its campus.