For immediate release
Workforce Development Region can offer cities, counties
ST. JAMES—The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) board learned from Central Workforce Development Board (CWDB) Director Amy Sublett what the Central Workforce Development Region could offer the cities and counties in the Meramec Region at its Sept. 9 meeting.
Sublett also discussed how the pandemic has affected workforce in the region via data from Meric.mo.gov. In the Meramec Region, job posting increased 20 percent between July 2020 and July 2021. In the same time period, the unemployment rate went from 6.8 percent to 4.2 percent. The state unemployment average is 3.96 percent. According to MERIC data, job openings are rebounding but labor force participation has not. The loss of employees is due in part to three million baby boomers leaving the workforce nationally, as well as low participation rate in the workforce and declining birth rates. Sublett said the answer is taking a deeper dive into who is in the regional labor force.
The CWDB is made up of volunteer, appointed leaders from area businesses, educational institutions, labor, economic development and community-based organizations. The board functions as the “umbrella” of the local workforce region which sets workforce development policy for the region, provides oversight of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), approves workforce development plan for delivery of services, coordinates activities with businesses and educational organizations and aligns the workforce development services.
Services for job seekers and employers are provided through the Missouri job centers. In the Meramec Region, this includes one full service job center in Rolla and two satellite locations in Potosi and Fort Leonard Wood. Job seekers can utilize the services for job searches, resource computers, training opportunities, skill assessments, tuition assistance, work-based learning and referrals to partner agencies. Employers can utilize services to assist with finding talent, screening and interview space, recruitment events and job fairs, hiring/training incentives, retention assistance, labor market information and veteran services.
In other business, the MRPC board:
- Discussed the 2020 census numbers showed a decrease in the region’s population of almost 2.6% or 5,170 individuals. Only one of the eight Meramec Region counties – Pulaski County – saw an increase in its population of 1681 people. Only six cities in the region saw an increase: Caledonia, Owensville, Rolla, St. Robert, Waynesville and West Sullivan. The board discussed the possibility of underreporting due to the pandemic and decreased personal contact. The Census Bureau has a process for disputing the count and that process should be announced in December;
- Learned that membership dues notices have been mailed and reviewed how cities and counties can buy up for more services provided by MRPC;
- Heard from Executive Director Bonnie Prigge that MRPC received a NADO impact award for the regional opioid programs and was one of 28 entities nationwide and the only Missouri entity to receive a $1.2 million Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and
- Changed a personnel policy to allow staff to accumulate up to 21 days in sick leave before it is converted to vacation with three sick days becoming one vacation day. This allows staff to build enough sick leave reserve to cover a two-week COVID illness or quarantine, if unable to work remotely.
Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. Steve Vogt, representing the city of Belle, serves as MRPC chairman. A professional staff of 36, led by Executive Director Bonnie Prigge, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.