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ARCHIVED  November 1, 1997

Eco-devo agencies commission labor study

LONGMONT — Four Front Range communities are banding together to try to pinpoint today˜s labor shortages in Northern Colorado — and tomorrow˜s.Economic-development officials in Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley are finalizing plans to commission a labor study that will identify gaps in today˜s work force, determine the extent of current labor shortages in Northern Colorado, assess training needs and look ahead to future demands on the labor market.
"I thought it would be very useful for the business community in Northern Colorado to have an up-to-date labor survey to find out where some of the gaps are," said John Hunt, president of the Economic Development Association of Longmont. "The labor market itself is changing so dramatically that we really need an up-to-date resource we can draw on.
"A key point of this survey is working with the employers throughout the area to find out their needs as they look ahead over the next four, five years," Hunt said. "The other important part is that all of the economic-development groups and work-force-development groups are working together in partnership. I think that˜s as important as anything."
Hunt broached the subject of a joint study during a roundtable discussion on labor shortages organized this summer by The Northern Colorado Business Report and The Boulder County Business Report. The idea was quickly embraced by his counterparts along the Front Range — Don Churchwell, executive director of the Loveland Economic Development Council; Roland Mower, president of the Fort Collins Economic Development Corp.; and Bill Argo, president of the Greeley/Weld Economic Development Action Partnership Inc.
The four economic-development groups are negotiating with a Denver firm to do the study, which would encompass an area stretching north from 120th Avenue and the Denver metro area to the Wyoming border and from Greeley west to the Front Range.
"I think we˜re all in agreement that this will certainly help," Argo said.
Funds for the project are coming from the four economic-development groups, with a possible assist from work-force development groups in Weld, Larimer and Boulder counties, which also are interested in the study.
"It˜s really an overview to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of this regional labor force," Churchwell explained. "We tend to think of our labor force as being right within our own community˜s city limits, and that is not the case. It˜s a very mobile society."
Mower emphasized that this study, unlike many, will look at both supply and demand.
"The neat thing is that it˜s really a twofold study," Mower said. "It looks not only at the labor supply as it exists today but also at the demand side — where the jobs are today and more importantly, where the demand is going to be five years from now."
Another important component, Argo said, will be help in identifying what kind of industries economic developers should target and what kind they should give less priority.
"We need to evaluate where our skill levels are, what kind of talent we have out there in the labor force, and maybe this will help us target industries to bring into the area," he said. "Or if we find that we have a tremendous shortage in an area, maybe we shouldn˜t be trying to attract those types of industries when we don˜t have employees to go to work for them."
Another important facet will be its value to both educators and students.
"The education institutions in our communities are all interested in finding out what employers are going to be needing, so they certainly will be interested in the results of this study as well," Mower said," and it may encourage students to look at areas that currently are underserved."
"At least it˜s a beginning," Hunt concluded," and maybe it˜s a start to something we need to do periodically, because it˜s becoming extremely critical to most companies, especially here in Northern Colorado. There˜s so much going on here that really to find the type of employees that a company needs, we need to really have a good base inventory of what we have."

LONGMONT — Four Front Range communities are banding together to try to pinpoint today˜s labor shortages in Northern Colorado — and tomorrow˜s.Economic-development officials in Longmont, Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley are finalizing plans to commission a labor study that will identify gaps in today˜s work force, determine the extent of current labor shortages in Northern Colorado, assess training needs and look ahead to future demands on the labor market.
"I thought it would be very useful for the business community in Northern Colorado to have an up-to-date labor survey to find out where some of the gaps are," said John…

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