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WIRED: New York December 21, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Finger Lakes WIRED initiative awarded $145,476 in training grants to 14 businesses:

Monroe County: SenDEC Corp., $18,000; Magnus Education LLC, $13,910; Amdex Computer Inc., $12,905; Riverside Automation, $12,000; Micro Systems Corp., $7,878; Reflexite, $4,900; Genesee Group, $4,648.

Livingston: Hurricane Technologies, $6,189; ARKEMA Inc., $1,120.

Ontario: Tariff Affiliates Inc., $14,286; Surmotech Inc., $6,215; CTC Online, $1,600.

Wayne: IEC Electronics, $3,610.

Wyoming: Steel & O’Brien, $38,215.

I wish that descriptions of the traning grants were published, but congratulations to the grant recipients nonetheless!


WIRED: Indiana plans unveiled December 20, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, WIRED, Workforce.
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The White County Economic Development director, Connie Neininger, and Purdue WIRED project director, Mark Smith, presented an overview of the Indiana WIRED program to the White County Commissioners:

[The WIRED project] has as its goals the support of local and regional entrepreneurship, preparing business for the aging population and mature workforce while equipping mature workers for jobs and building innovation and job growth in the industries of advanced manufacturing, advanced materials and agribusiness, food production and technology.

“We need to leverage all these assets; that’s what this grant is about,” said Smith. “It’s important to build networks; we’re trying to find the best ideas so everyone can use them.”

Neininger said asset mapping will be a focus of the group meetings in early 2007 so that through this sharing, White County, for example, might learn of a program in Tipton County that’s making it easier for entrepreneurs to get started. That idea then might translate to have the same impact here at home. Then, WIRED grant funds help make the project a reality.

But more research and information is needed so that White County can best use the funds it has available and part of that will come through public meetings over the next several months said Neininger.

WIRED: Indiana staff hire December 20, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Purdue University Technical Assistance Program hired Christy Bozic as its manager of business innovation.  Ms. Bozic will be funded by WIRED for the first three years of her position.

Dave McKinnis, TAP Director: “Christy will be responsible for helping manufacturers with product development, manufacturing processes, supply-chain development, strategy development, business management and other related issues. She also will work closely with economic development leaders, work force development organizations, governmental offices and university contacts to help companies create and implement their plans for innovative practices.”

Bozic: “The biggest mistake companies make is thinking that they have to move oversees to reduce cost.  There are new, innovative ways to use the incumbent work force. Retraining and keeping new graduates in-state are key.”

Statistical comparison of major metro areas December 19, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Research, Workforce.
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Houston Strategies referred me to this well-done compilation by the St. Louis, Missouri-based East-West Gateway Council of Goverments, of data comparing St. Louis to different metro areas around the nation in terms of our many demographic points – education, age, race, income, etc.  – using the latest available data.

If you are interested in keeping up with the Jones (or at least benchmarking your community against them!), this looks like a good resource.

WIRED: Colorado, North Carolina, Montana December 14, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, WIRED, Workforce.
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A good day for WIRED news…

COLORADO: The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation is starting the Colorado Energy Coalition to advance the Rocky Mountain State’s position in the emerging energy industry. And there’s a WIRED tie-in:

The CEC also wants to help ensure the state has a highly educated, well-trained work force for the energy sector. The coalition will work with the Metro Denver WIRED Initiative, a $15 million U.S. Department of Labor grant intended to increase the number of skilled workers for the region’s fastest-growing industries, such as energy.

Kevin Thompson from the US Department of Labor’s Employment & Training Administration forwarded me this complementary article from the Denver Post.

The Denver EDC offers this energy cluster overview, which is worth a read if you want to learn more about how Denver is selling itself to the energy sector.  Lots of skilled workforce data in there.

NORTH CAROLINA: Representatives of Piedmont Triad, the managing partner in the Tar Heel State’s 12-county WIRED initiative, will be attending the 19th Annual Performance Racing Industry trade show in Orlando this weekend. The article discusses motorsports’ importance to North Carolina and the fact that Piedmont Triad is leading WIRED, but no other direct ties are made. Will North Carolina be investing WIRED money in the motorsports industry?

MONTANA: The Montana State Univesity-Billings College of Technology received $1.99 million from the Federal government’s Community-Based Job Training Grant program for the creation of an Energy Workforce Training and Development Center. In part, the grant will “support the educational needs of the State of Montana WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) initiative to advance the development of biofuels, natural and renewable resources.”

WIRED: Northwest Florida overview December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, WIRED, Workforce.
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The Gulf Breeze News offers a concise overview of the 16-county, “Great Northwest” Florida WIRED project. While not revealing anything particularly new, the article did a good job touching the high points. I especially liked their program options and target industry listing:

The WIRED initiative for Northwest Florida includes:

  • Entrepreneurship development designed to enable qualifying start-up companies to secure seed capital.
  • Grants enabling job training for new and existing businesses in the target industries.
  • Secondary education academy development for entrylevel employment in selected industries or accelerated college preparation in the subject areas of math and science.
  • Outreach programs to educate and attract students of all ages into training programs to meet workforce demands.
  • Strategic development component designed to ensure workforce development programs are developing skills necessary to meet current and future target industry needs.

The target industries as defined by the state are:

  • Aerospace and defense
  • Medical device manufacturing, biotechnology and health services where 70 percent of the company’s revenue is generated by sales outside of the Northwest Florida region.
  • Information technology, software development and Electronics engineering.
  • Construction materials manufacturing
  • Distribution activities that support the target industries.

Insights on Sustainable Small Town Development December 11, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Workforce.
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The Boomtown Institute’s Jack Schultz brought to my attention a publication by Rural Partners of Michigan called “101+ Concepts for Sustainable Small Town Development”  (PDF, 10MB).  The publication combines small town wit and wisdom with volumes of excellent pieces of advice on how to maintain (if not grow) small towns in our global ecomony.

Among the many items are a few workforce related nuggets like this one:

35. On manufacturing in rural areas – “According to a recent study, high-performance manufacturing firms favor rural areas. Indeed they look favorably upon rural regions not because they are seeking out a low-cost site, but because rural workers are perceived to be more flexible and hold stronger work ethics.” George Erickcek, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

While the publication is geared toward small cities and towns, many of the notions presented within are valid regardless of the size of your community.

Boise State students measuring creativity of their community December 11, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Research, Workforce.
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Honest, I’m not looking for content about Boise. It just seems to be finding me. This time, it’s from the Idaho Business Review (Thanks to Ed Morrison at Brewed Fresh Daily for the lead) :

Fourteen Boise State University honors students have devised a way to measure the level of creativity and innovation at work in the city of Boise.


Indiana: Honda employment hotline December 9, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Workforce.
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As I get a number of hits for information on employment at Honda’s new plant in Indiana, I note that the Greenburg, Indiana Chamber has a note about a new Honda Information Line.  Those who are interested hould probably check there first – but I’m not on the ground in Indiana and have no more information than that which I read online.  Good luck to all of the job seekers!

Minnesota Chamber coalition to address skilled worker shortfall December 6, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Stronger Organizations, Workforce.
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Another great example of Chambers of Commerce working to advance workforce programming to positively affect the economic development environment, this time from Minnesota:

Minnesota companies of all sizes and types are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified workers, according to the annual report of Grow Minnesota! This shortage, along with concerns regarding the state’s training programs, are among the major findings of the private-sector program spearheaded by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

Here’s a media piece following up on the release of the report:

It’s getting harder to find good help.

That’s the principal finding in the annual report of Grow Minnesota, a program spearheaded by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with 40 local chambers, including the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.

The report says companies of all sizes and types are finding it increasingly difficult to find qualified workers.

“As good as current training programs are, they need to do a better job of keeping pace with the needs of today’s economy,” said Bill Blazar, senior vice president of public affairs and business development at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

A copy of the Minnesota Chamber’s report is available here.  It’ll be interesting to see what this coalition can come up with.