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JDA discusses marketing, cooperation

By Staff | Aug 30, 2019

The Rugby Job Development Authority board reviewed a recent job fair, discussed local employment trends and heard from a member of Harvey’s JDA board at their regular meeting last Thursday.

Chad Friese, an agent for NuLine Insurance offices in Rugby and Harvey sat in on the Rugby JDA meeting and listened to JDA Executive Director Liz Heisey present information on the success of a job fair held earlier this month.

Heisey described the businesses attending the fair as “well-pleased,” and the job seekers as “very well-qualified.”

“I thought we’d have a lot more entry level workers,” Heisey noted. “People came prepared; they had their resumes, and there were professional applicants who came to apply. I think the employers were well pleased, especially the larger employers.”

Both Heisey and Susan Selensky, who served in place of absent Board President Blair Bratvet, noted holding more frequent job fairs could be an option in the future.

“We simply need more workers in Rugby. But this is a good way to draw people,” Heisey said.

Heisey shared feedback from other fair attendees, some of whom had traveled from Kenmare.

“They have friends here, and they like the community, and they thought it was a great opportunity to look at the area,” Heisey indicated.

Heisey also shared data from Job Service North Dakota.

“In July, Pierce County had four reported jobless claims, and only one in June,” she noted. “So, that’s a big eye opener. In Pierce County, the number in the labor force is 1,786, and then 1,736 employed, so that comes out to an estimated 50 workers that are available.”

“Five per cent unemployment is considered fully employed,” Heisey continued.

“Pierce County’s unemployment rate for July was 2.8 percent. And of the jobs that they reported in North Dakota, there were 13,682 open and available job openings in July just the ones reported to job service. A lot of (employers) are using other employment agencies or putting a sign in their window. They also reported there are only 9,294 unemployed. So, even if all these people applied to fill those jobs, there’s still not enough (jobs filled).”

Heisey explored the possibility of using targeted advertising to draw applicants and job seekers from areas outside of Pierce County and North Dakota.

The board also discussed messages for marketing campaigns to emphasize.

Mayor Sue Steinke noted, “When you highlight what we have, for a town of 2,800 people, we have a lot of amenities. We really do. Lots of rec opportunities; opportunities for the kids. We do have a lot of good programs for a town of our size.”

Friese, who is listed as a citizen member of Harvey’s JDA board on the board’s website, introduced himself and offered some commentary.

In addition to representing NuLine, Friese is listed as a contact at Argent Land Holdings in Harvey according to Dun and Bradstreet’s website.

“I had lunch with (Rugby JDA Vice President Rob St. Michel*) two weeks ago and discussed, one, my role as a business owner here, and two, my role and the things that I do in Harvey,” Friese told the board. “I sit on the JDA, and we had our meeting on Tuesday, and we have the same issues; we’re just 45 miles apart. Maybe there’s some collaboration, some way that we can (cooperate on certain matters).”

Rugby JDA board members suggested possibly cooperating with Harvey’s JDA for future job fairs.

Rugby board members also brought up past collaboration with Harvey’s JDA, most recently, to develop natural gas infrastructure.

After discussing updating census information, Heisey told Friese, “I have a map I can share. We can revitalize our natural gas task force. It just kind of stopped when I left. They had one meeting and then it just stopped there. We evidently need to get that going.”

Friese said, “I was just hoping, I think, to take two or three hours and have the two boards get together to say, what’s happening here, and how do we, is there something there to be cost-shared, not necessarily the pipeline; not necessarily natural gas.”

“I know that’s one of the issues, but there’s multiple other things that I think that we as communities that are going to survive, I think it’s pretty evident that as long as you keep your hospital, as long as you keep your other vital businesses there, you’re going to be a survivor.” Friese added. “So, how do you work together, at least from the JDA standpoint, how do you work together and share some costs that we’re not good at?”

Friese said collaboration would benefit both communities as population trends shift in the future.

“I really think, as we sit here, in 30 years, we won’t have Wells County (and Pierce County); we’ll have a super-regional county; because, as the population shrinks, people will come to the population centers, and the Anamoose and Drakes, and places like that will continue to be marginalized,” Friese said.

“We want to be the hub of whatever it is (that results), so how do you do that? You combine resources when you can. Maybe there’s something there, maybe there’s not; I don’t know.”

In other business, the Rugby JDA discussed maintaining signage and advertising for the Chalmers Addition. The board also discussed several upcoming events including the City of Rugby’s 2020 budget hearing and the Economic Development North Dakota fall conference and Main Street ND summit, both in October.

The next regular Rugby JDA board meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 26.

– In the article headlined “JDA discusses marketing, cooperation”, the last name of JDA Board Vice President Rob St. Michel was incorrectly spelled “St. Michael”. The Tribune regrets the error.

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