Brower: Community is solution at workforce and housing symposium | SkyHiNews.com

Brower: Community is solution at workforce and housing symposium

Patrick Brower
Grand Enterprise Initiative
By Patrick Brower, Grand Enterprise Initiative

It was a revelation about the power of community and communication.

Last Wednesday Grand County Economic Development hosted a Workforce and Housing Open House at the Headwaters Center in Winter Park. A total of 61 people from across Grand County attended. The event’s goal was to move another step forward in the process of supporting local businesses both big and small in addressing workforce and housing challenges.

Workforce and housing challenges are a big issue for businesses in Grand County. Grand County Economic Development, under the leadership of DiAnn Butler in collaboration with many other stakeholders, is working hard to address from the top-down and the bottom up these critical issues.

What is the workforce challenge? Basically, businesses needing to hire and retain quality employees or struggling with keeping and hiring help. In some cases businesses are operating severely understaffed, losing opportunities to grow and expand in our robust economy.

This is connected, of course, to the housing challenges being faces by employees and employers. One big reason (although not the only reason) for the workforce challenge is that the workers themselves struggle to find housing so that they can continue to work happily in Grand County.

Over the course of the last two years many of the county’s major employers and stakeholders have been working collectively on addressing the workforce and housing challenges throughout Grand County with a consultant to develop an Integrated Workforce and Housing Platform for attracting and retaining a sustainable workforce ecosystem.

This web portal is being designed to provide a structural framework that will help employees and employers navigate the range of issues and demands that come into play in hiring, retaining and housing our workers.

This web-portal that can serve as a central location for available positions and a shared workforce program, housing needs and options, higher education opportunities, child care options, among other concerns.

Round table discussions took place on these topics during the event last week. These discussions with employers and designers of the web portal, as well as with employers and others involved in the process such as me and Grand County Higher Education and many others, revealed something glaringly clear.

A community is being formed that will is making the resolution of community-wide problems easier to alleviate if not solve. This is the key take-away from the event. The web page itself won’t solve the problem. The concern on the part of all the players won’t solve the problems.

But the continued interaction and interplay between all the players will. Shared dilemmas were identified, explained and shared last Wednesday night. A wide range of solutions, including explanation of planned housing projects and housing assistance programs offered through new efforts at Grand County Housing and the Grand Foundation, opened eyes to how these problems are being addressed.

And it was the active act of sharing information about the problems, the exchange of business cards and contact information and the realization of continued community needs and solution that makes the process move forward.

It was the establishment and encouragement of community that mattered most. And that’s just what was developed last Wednesday.

Here are some of the key players who helped make up that important community around our shared issues and challenges:

Winter Park Housing Authority, Grand County Housing Authority, Freeport McMoRan (owner of the Henderson Mine and Mill), Winter Park Resort, Colorado Timber Resource, Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Snow Mountain Ranch – YMCA Rockies, Town of Granby, Sun Communities, Granby Ranch, Fraser Recreation District, Middle Park Medical Center, The Roofing Company, Mountain Parks Electric, Cabin Works, C Lazy U Ranch, East and West Grand School District, Grand County Higher Ed Initiative, Grand Beginnings, Colorado Workforce, Grand Foundation, and Grand County Housing Authority.

To learn more and become involved contact DiAnn Butler at 970-531-1343 or dbutler@co.grand.co.us.


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