“Someplace Better to start a new life and career with access to quality education, inspiring arts, active lifestyle, and the tranquil outdoors. We invite you to find a better place to live and work. Work to live, don’t live to work.” -SomeplaceBetter.Org
Sheboygan County business leaders unveiled a new marketing campaign Tuesday aimed at attracting outside job seekers, who officials say are sorely needed in a local labor market that’s now “underwater” because of a worker shortage.
The “Someplace Better” initiative promotes local amenities that backers feel contribute to a high quality of life in the county, including quality schools, recreation opportunities and the relatively high number of global businesses headquartered here.
The initiative comes as the gap widens between the number of job openings here and the availability of workers.
“It’s time to draw attention to the assets we offer,” said Betsy Alles, executive director of the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce, during a press conference at the Stephanie H. Weill Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Sheboygan. “Because of their nature, Sheboygan County residents are humble about what we have. But it is time to brag.”
The campaign, which is being led by the Sheboygan County Chamber and the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp., includes a new visitor guide, website — someplacebetter.org — and coordinated outreach efforts, and is separate from the chamber’s tourism marketing efforts.
SCEDC Director Dane Checolinski said staff from his agency will also join local employers in attending job fairs, visiting college campuses and traveling to high unemployment communities every quarter.
State estimates put the county’s unemployed population at 2,000 people, while online job postings alone show 2,400 openings within commuting distance, according to figures from the SCEDC.
With the county averaging 1,000 new jobs per year since the recession — with less than 5 percent being seasonal — the shortage isn’t going away any time soon, officials warned.
“With success comes needs,” Checolinski said.
Kohler Co. officials who attended Tuesday’s announcement said they plan to hire 500 full-time workers in the next year, plus an additional 350 seasonal workers. Of the 500 full-time openings, only about a third are because of turnover.
Meanwhile, Aurora Health Care says it expects to have about 150 job postings in Sheboygan County this year, while Plymouth-based Sargento Foods will hire about 300 people this year, and about 165 of those are new positions.
Checolinski said Sheboygan County’s job market has been aided by the high concentration of manufacturers here.
Currently, about a third of the county’s gross domestic product comes from manufacturing, which Checolinski said is third highest in the country.
As a result, the area has a high number of entry-level manufacturing jobs that pay at least $35,000 a year, with full benefits, which the initiative hopes to promote to workers outside the county.
However, one big challenge that employers face is that potential candidates from outside the state have unfavorable views of Wisconsin because of the weather and impressions that it’s mostly rural.
“Unfortunately, we live in an area where it’s harder for people to feel like they’d be comfortable,” said Louie Gentine, CEO at Sargento Foods. “As a national brand, you’re recruiting from all over the United States, and a lot of times, unfortunately, people will stop when the word Wisconsin is said. It’s really difficult for people to decide to make that leap.”
That’s why Gentine and other business leaders say the campaign is needed.
“We have a lot to sell here,” said Andrea Gavin, chief medical officer at Aurora’s Sheboygan-Calumet group. “We have excellent communities to live in, wonderful schools, excellent restaurants, art, year-round recreation, golf, Road America, you name it.”
“And we have close proximity to major cities to the north and south, and no traffic,” she added.
This article originated on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 from The Sheboygan Press reporter, Josh Lintereur, 920-453-5147, firstname.lastname@example.org.