Local businesses give critical input on industry, workforce needs


Howard County - Overcoming problems and challenges we may encounter in a business environment often starts with a conversation: a dialogue about possible solutions to develop a plan of action.
Whether challenges for companies include new employee recruitment, employee soft skills such as customer service, or retention of talent, a diverse group of leaders providing their input and expertise helps to work through a solution. The Howard County Business and Community Board, formed with the assistance of Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), provides a forum for this purpose, by inviting dialogue between education, economic development officials and local business leaders.
Business leaders, such as Jennalee C. Pedretti, vice president of operations for Regional Health Services of Howard County (RHSHC), see firsthand that a strong relationship with the NICC Cresco Center is making a beneficial impact on the healthcare workforce.
“To remain competitive in the business of healthcare, we strive to be up-to-date with all technologies and services offered right here in Cresco, which provides a unique opportunity for students to be exposed to the multitude of career paths related to healthcare services,” Pedretti explained. In the past year, RHSHC has hosted two healthcare employment events in partnership with the NICC Cresco Center, as well as job shadowing experiences for students, according to Pedretti.
“RHSHC enjoys working with the NICC Cresco Center to showcase all of the different jobs to the students, and to discuss what the job really looks like and how they can start to prepare now for the career they want to pursue in the future. High school students who take full advantage of the opportunity NICC provides to complete college courses early are preparing themselves for entrance into the workforce. The current students are our future workforce,” she said.
There are now a total of 10 Business and Community Boards/Sector Boards in the NICC district that include representatives from hundreds of businesses. The Howard County Business and Community Board addresses the ongoing short-term and long-term workforce needs for local industry, according to Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of business and community solutions.
“These boards and their members reflect the distinct economic character of each county in our district. Their dialogues help to identify what skills local employers require for their workforce, and how education and community organizations can work together to meet these needs,” Mihm-Herold explained. “Members of the Howard County Business and Community Board have created action plans to prepare for our future and ensure economic growth.”
Business and Community Boards in the district represent many industries, including: agriculture, food and natural resources; arts, communication and information systems; applied sciences, technology, engineering and manufacturing; health sciences; human services; and business, finance, marketing and management.
District-wide in 2017, NICC invested $5,070,000 in the 260E Iowa New Jobs Training Program, creating 560 jobs. In Howard County, 1,020 Business and Community Solutions course registrations were processed for 684 residents in areas such as agriculture, healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing and career development. At the Cresco Center, 320 Business and Community Solutions students generated 349 non-credit course registrations.
The Howard County Business and Community Board provides critical, impactful connections between businesses, educators, economic development, and workforce agencies. The objective is to serve stakeholders through the exchange of information and implementation of workforce solutions based on shared goals and human capital needs, leading to measurable results to help grow our businesses and communities. For more information on services offered through the Cresco Center and representation on the Business and Community Board, contact Cassie Martin, center director, at 563.547.3355, ext. 3, or martinca@nicc.edu.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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