Lack of Qualified Workers and Buildings Obstacles for Companies to Mount Pleasant
High-tech manufacturing needs workers with higher levels of education and experience.
Bringing more jobs and boosting the economy remains a focus of Mount Pleasant officials, but they need some help from area workers.
In short, there are jobs out there, but potential employees lack the skills to move into vacant positions.
According to a survey from the Racing County Economic Development Corporation of area businesses, 64 percent of companies said they're looking to increase their workforce, but they only rate the quality of employees at a 3.7. Availability, however, comes in at 4.7 and productivity is at 5.6 on the scale. Companies used a scale of 1 - 7 (7 being the highest).
Trick told the Board that the quality rating coincides with managers saying skill levels need to rise as does the consistency of soft skills, like working with others.
"Area businesses are pointing to the proximity to I-94 as a positive since they can recruit from a larger area and have that easier access for transportation," she said. "But filling positions can be challenging because area workers lack the training for some jobs and they need to improve their attendance and ability to be part of a team."
Village President Carolyn Milkie agreed, saying that if workers in Racine County want to attract and keep businesses here, they have to do their part and get the education and training these new positions will require.
"You have to stay one step ahead these days," she said. "These new processes are not the traditional manufacturing we think we know."
Milkie also suggested prospective employees and area residents need to change their definition of manufacturing.
"I think too many people still about tractors and cars," she said. "And those are important, but when we work with RCEDC to bring in a new company, we're thinking about manufacturing as part of a bio-technology business or microchips."
Both of which, Milkie added, are manufacturing, but require a much higher degree of education and experience.
The Village of Mount Pleasant also needs buildings if new businesses are going to open there and provide jobs for area workers.
That same report from RCEDC indicates that when manufacturing companies are looking for a new location between Milwaukee and Chicago, the I-94 corridor is their first choice. But if there aren't existing buildings nearby, they move to other communities.
"Almost 100 percent of prospective companies want buildings, not land," said Jennie Trick, deputy director, business recruitment and retention for RCEDC. "And they want to be near the interstate to help reduce fuel and transportation costs."
Out of a possible 11 companies looking to relocate or expand in Mount Pleasant, only five remain solid leads because of the lack of existing building space.
Milkie said she does think the village needs to have a stock pile of manufacturing buildings that can handle high-volume production of things like wind turbines and medical appliances.
But the good news is that companies are growing in Mount Pleasant. Trick told the trustees at the Aug. 22 Board meeting that 17 existing businesses in the village are looking to expand.
"That's good news for the village and the region," she stated.