Job crunch: In the midst of good news, local workforce woes linger.

7/11/2014

Finney County is closer to new and needed senior living accommodations.

Lona DuVall, president of the Finney County Economic Development Corp., recently said construction of a facility with 71 independent units, 70 assisted living units and 80 skilled nursing beds could begin in late fall on Campus Drive in Garden City.

The development came following a study on the local need for senior housing, assisted living and full-service senior care facilities. Results of the study showed the county short some 300 units.

In pursuing the study, the FCEDC was in part responding to queries from local medical community representatives who asked whether enough was being done to address such living accommodations at a time of growth in the community, and a graying trend featuring an increasing number of people older than 60.

While every community must address issues related to an aging population, Finney County faces another challenge not realized by all: a significant labor shortage.

DuVall noted employers' ongoing concerns over finding workers to fill a growing number of jobs, whether it would be at the new senior living facility, new retail stores and restaurants popping up in the community, or existing businesses.

Strategies to bring in companies that create new jobs have been an emphasis in Finney County, and for good reason.

Still, economic development strategies must go beyond luring new businesses. Efforts to draw and keep people here also matter — to include recruitment and retention of workers as many employers struggle to fill open positions.

Education remains key, and our high schools and Garden City Community College will continue preparing youth and adults alike to fill the community's job needs.

That's but one necessary step. In responding to the labor shortage, local governments, schools and various economic development entities also must continue working together on new, innovative ways to bolster the workforce.

As the new retail stores, restaurants and other businesses give residents cause to be excited, each development also puts more of a focus on the need for solutions — and quickly — to a labor shortage that has to be tackled from multiple angles.

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