Sarpy County Chamber: State of the County and Workforce Review
The Sarpy Country Chamber of Commerce (www.sarpychamber.org) held the 2019 State of the County on May 28, which covered a variety of topics with a primary focus on local workforce development and its relevance to the future growth of Sarpy County. The event featured presentations from: David Drodz, Research Coordinator at UNO Center for Public Affairs Research; Dr. Rikli, Superindendent of Papillion La Vista Community Schools; Allison Hatch, Talent Development Team Leader State of NE Dept of Economic Development; Bryan Slone, President of the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce; and Angela Cooper, Chief Diversity Officer at Mutual of Omaha.
Drozd’s analysis of U.S. Census data painted a picture of strong and consistent population gains in greater Omaha with Sarpy County as a standout. Over the next four or five years, the total population of the Omaha metro area (Douglas, Sarpy Washington, Cass, and Saunders counties in Nebraska and Harrison, Pottawattamie, and Mills counties in Iowa) is projected to top one million. Drozd explained that reaching that population will likely increase demands for workforce. Many national companies search to expand into metro areas with populations greater than one million, and Omaha will be on their radar in several years.
Slone identified a workforce unable to meet employment needs as the most important issue facing Nebraska’s economic health. He expanded upon the workforce challenge facing not only Sarpy County, but the entire state. “If 50,000 people arrived in Nebraska today we could employ them right away,” he said, citing the 30,000 to 40,000 unfilled jobs that are currently unfilled in the state as well as the 10,000 to 15,000 jobs left unadvertised due to a lacking workforce.
Slone identified immigration and a focus on technology in Nebraska’s traditional industries like agriculture and transportation as key components of the workforce solution. He also emphasized the work of Blueprint Nebraska, a group of business and industry leaders from across the state with the goal of creating a strategic plan that offers a clear path towards sustained economic prosperity.
The Sarpy Country Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization comprised of local business owners and executives who believe strongly in the free enterprise system. They provide a host of programs and services designed to help businesses of all sizes grow and prosper. Learn more online at www.sarpychamber.org or call (402) 339-3050.