You could easily sum up the GFMEDC’s 2014 to partnerships that are “Igniting” (our annual report and meeting theme) economic activities. Our organization laid the foundation with plans and partnerships to evaluate our current situation as well to build upon synergies and create solutions to our largest challenges.
So let’s get into the nitty gritty.
First, our organization stepped back and hired Fourth Economy consulting firm to take a look at what’s currently happening in our regional economy as well as what our investors expect from the GFMEDC. What’s changed? What’s working? What can we build upon to keep this economic fire going?
After research, interviews, focus groups and surveys, we created the Cass Clay Strategic Plan. Now sitting on all our desks is a five-year roadmap focused on five priorities. The plan focuses on the following: talent attraction; higher education and STEM education; an advocacy agenda while communicating economic impact; leverage existing and emerging regional industry base for business retention and expansion and startups and finally, strategies to help foster the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. For the entire report, click here!
On to a workforce study. The GFMEDC has partnered with the Chamber, United Way of Cass Clay, FM Area Foundation and FM CVB (along with several sponsors) to begin a workforce study.
If you are wondering why we need a workforce study, here’s a quick snapshot. We consistently boast a very low unemployment rate, we have a large number of open jobs. Companies need to be able to hire adequate numbers (as well as qualified) of employees not only to get their current projects done but to take on more projects. In some cases, hiring adequate staff would actually lead to more growth.
The workforce study will be completed in June and will give us a plan to collectively tackle workforce challenges impeding growth.
The Valley Prosperity Partnership is a large regional initiative that brings together 26 leaders from across the Red River Valley in North Dakota and Minnesota. Six initiatives focus on actionable items to benefit the whole region from Wahpeton to Grand Forks and everything in between. The VPP has tackled water security, workforce and research so far and has already had an impact during the North Dakota legislative session.
Education that Works is an initiative we started two years ago focused on ways to support alignment of K-12 education and the workforce. How can we support partnerships and initiatives that lead to students who are better prepared for the workforce. The group is tackling three initiatives: accelerated professional development for teachers, working with higher education to prepare tomorrow’s educators differently and communicating 21st century skill developments with teachers, parents and the business community.
And at the same time, the GFMEDC is doing things, lots of things.
Manufacturing tours expose high school students to the high tech world of manufacturing. Teachers in Industry turns teachers into students for four weeks each summer. Sector summits bring education and specific sectors together to enhance synergies and to uncover challenges to growth. Business Retention and Expansion meetings connect businesses to resources they need. Marketing efforts elevate the stories of the good things and great people here in the FM Metro, giving outside folks a glimpse of what it’s really like to live and work here. And that’s not all but we’re getting a little long winded so check out our website, www.smartmovefm.com for more!
Now get out there and tell folks why you love living and working in the metro. Fire up!