JREDC & Chamber of Commerce creating workforce initiative

By Blake Schnitker on May 12 at 12:16pm

It’s been a rather busy week for local businesses.

Coinciding in the middle of this month has been National Economic Development Week, National Travel and Tourism Week, not to mention Small Business Month.

President of the Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation Paul Ellis has joined WLDS’ morning talk show along with several other local guests throughout the week. And while myriad economic issues were discussed, today’s show focused on a new program being co-developed by the JREDC and the Jacksonville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Ellis believes the new program will help the local area be better prepared for future economic success.

“We have a new workforce initiative. Lisa (Musch) and I are working on a nationally-vetted program that I think is going to be dynamite. It’s basically looking at the whole concept of talent and looking at what’s the most replicable set of skills that you need in a variety of industries. It’s a program out of Vermillion County, so it’s an Illinois program. There’s some other communities in Illinois that have used it and it has been very successful for them, and now it’s become a national model through the U.S. Chamber Foundation, and we’re in line on the next go-around to get trained in that be able to bring it back here,” says Ellis.

He explains that the program would incorporate both training and recruiting a solid workforce.

“Training can come in so many different ways, and this also includes recruiting talent. Every community needs to bring more people in or have access to more people, and fortunately, with our proximity to Springfield and our location right in the middle of the state essentially, we do have an opportunity to attract people if we have the right jobs,” Ellis says.

Looking at the overall picture, Ellis says he’s very excited about the economic future of Jacksonville and the surrounding area.

“We’ve got more sites now to market, and we’ve had some communities step up that haven’t done so before. We’ve got great opportunities with the railroads and the utilities, which are even more supportive now. The whole idea of bringing manufacturing back, the idea that rural areas maybe have not been getting the amount of attention they need, those are all factors that could play into our advantage,” says Ellis.

Another major topic of discussion on today’s AM Conversation was the progress of the Tri-City-owned site out on East Morton near the prison. For more on that, check out all of this week’s interviews with Ellis on WLDS/WEAI.com, and stay tuned for more updates on the local economy.