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JSDC annual meeting talks workforce recruitment

Economic development efforts in the Jamestown area are all about workforce development, according to Kelly Rachel, president of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp.

Economic development efforts in the Jamestown area are all about workforce development, according to Kelly Rachel, president of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp.

Rachel told the annual meeting of the JSDC Wednesday that he was optimistic about the future of Jamestown but bringing more workers to Jamestown must be the most important issue for the organization.

Shawn Kessel, deputy director of the North Dakota Department of Commerce and keynote speaker at the meeting, echoed the concern.

Kessel said about two dozen bills introduced during the recent North Dakota Legislature would have made it more difficult for workers to move to the state through licensing and permitting requirements. A case in point was a bill that required people who braid the hair of others to be licensed by the state of North Dakota. That bill failed, he said.

The Legislature approved a $2.1 million discretionary fund for the Department of Commerce with $1.1 million dedicated to tourism. Kessel said the department plans to make recruiting nurses to North Dakota a priority for its discretionary funds.

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Connie Ova, CEO of the JSDC, also spoke at the meeting, saying the JSDC was reviewing its role in the community as well as "working diligently to attract another tenant to SEPA (Spiritwood Energy Park Association)."

A soybean crushing plant has been in the planning stage for the SEPA industrial park for about two years, although Kessel said there had been a number of meetings on the project recently.

During the meeting, the Growing Jamestown award was presented to Advantage Properties, an electrical contractor that has expanded in Jamestown, and Holte Construction, a general contractor in the community that has expanded this past year. The companies used the Flex Pace program, administered by the JSDC to help finance the expansion projects.

The meeting also included an approval of the JSDC audit that showed an income of about $1 million and expenses of $984,000.

Opportunities for new businesses require people, Rachel said in his closing remarks.

"Our population has been flat for about 60 years," he said. "It begins with us, people recruit people."

That effort will require a unified approach, Rachel said.

"Workforce is not an issue that can be solved by a single organization," he said.

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