This year, the state’s first local comprehensive workforce initiative marks a decade of work. Ten years ago the Columbus Area Chamber hired the first full-time coordinator to the Drive for Five workforce development initiative. Angie Ramaekers was the first and we’ve had a series of Rock Stars in that role ever since. Kara Asmus is the current coordinator and the latest “Rock Star” and nobody is more committed to growing a sustainable talent pool in our region.
In 2017, 164 people were employed, retained or are still looking to find a career in Columbus as a direct result of the Drive for Five. This is a conservative number because we can’t track everyone, but that is serious measurable impact in the world of workforce development today in rural America!
Those results happen from a comprehensive approach that includes school-business connections, social media campaigning, direct mail, quality of life amenities, and much more. But one thing that separates Columbus from other similar efforts is Kara’s focus on physically going out and telling the Columbus story to people across the Midwest. In fact, this year the Drive for Five was at 21 job fairs actively recruiting people and you can see the results in that number above.
From a bottom line perspective, Columbus was the only comparable community in Nebraska that saw growth in the local workforce number in 2017.