Competition for local workers promises to worsen in future.

Local employers already know the challenge of a tight labor force.

While people around Garden City have cause to be excited about new retail stores and restaurants on the horizon, proprietors of businesses already here must wonder how their operations will be affected, especially when it comes to available manpower.

Some local merchants have even expressed more concern over the competition for workers than the competition for consumers in a community where unemployment continues to hover below the state average.

In October, the Kansas Department of Labor reported statewide unemployment at 5.1 percent, with Finney County at 3.7 percent and Garden City at 4 percent.

Much of economic development forces' attention has focused on ways to create higher paying, full-time primary jobs and for good reason, as they help stimulate economic growth.

That said, every job created counts, and a good number of full- and part-time positions are on the way thanks to the new Schulman Crossing shopping center and nearby hotel-water park-restaurant development.

The Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce has mentioned plans to work with local governments, schools and other economic development entities on ways to bolster the local workforce and help address needs in the retail sector.

They all know education is key in workforce development. With that in mind, expect Garden City High School and Garden City Community College to continue being instrumental in preparing youth and adults alike to fill the community's job needs.

High school years bring a time for many students to enter the workforce. Educators know a first job can go a long way toward equipping youth with skills needed to succeed later in life.

And GCCC continues to evolve in meeting local labor needs. One example would be in a new culinary management program with courses in food preparation, food safety and management starting in the spring.

Workforce issues have to be tackled from multiple angles. As economic development officials, local governments and businesses pursue strategies, our schools will remain invaluable in training workers and connecting them with jobs that help fuel economic growth and prosperity.