Website Addresses Local Workforce Shortage

The website highlights local events and includes education, housing, health care and other community information.


There are nearly 800 job openings for more than 500 different positions in the Columbus, Neb., area, according to the Nebraska Department of Labor.

That means more jobs are available than the number of unemployed people living in Platte County.

For local employers, the challenge of finding enough workers, particularly those with the skill sets needed to match the open positions, is nothing new.

Dee Hanson, coordinator of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce's Drive for Five initiative, is also well aware of this issue.

That's why she launched an updated website this summer focused entirely on bringing job seekers and their families to the area.

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According to the Nebraska Department of Labor, Platte County had an unemployment rate of just 2.7 percent in November, with only 514 unemployed residents among a total labor force of 18,808.

The low unemployment rate here is a good thing, Hanson said, but it does make it more difficult for local businesses and manufacturers to find the skilled workers they need.

"We're still facing that challenge," she said.

The website -- -- is an updated version of the page created when the Drive for Five initiative first began addressing the workforce shortage here around 2007.

Hanson said the revamped website is more user-friendly and attractive than the previous version.

"There's a lot more visual aspects to it to showcase Columbus," she said.

The website highlights local events and includes education, housing, health care and other community information. There are also short stories on young couples who moved back to Columbus to continue or start their careers.

Individuals looking for a job can find a business directory and current list of open positions in the area. Another function allows users to upload resumes Hanson then shares with local employers.

Currently, there are more than 70 job openings -- from laundry attendant to diesel mechanic -- posted on the website, which includes only positions available at the 23 employers that partner with the Drive for Five initiative.

Hanson said she expects to see the number of job postings grow over the coming months as more employers begin utilizing the updated website, which serves as a secondary tool for Drive for Five.

Hanson led 17 recruiting trips last year, as well.

Most of these trips were to career and job fairs and a local team also visited Maryville, Mo., where the Energizer battery plant closed late last year.

Hanson said she plans to schedule 15-20 recruiting trips each year as part of the effort to bring more workers to Columbus.

(c)2014 the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.)

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