County job picture rosier than most of state, board told

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – The county’s economy is running full steam – and ahead of most of the rest of the state.

Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Dane Checolinski painted that picture for the County Board last Tuesday.

“The number of jobs we have is growing. We’re back at 2003-04 employment levels,” Checolinski told the supervisors.

He noted that Sheboygan County had one of the nine largest job growth figures for the period 2011 to 2014 among all 72 of the state’s counties.

Checolinski termed the county’s unemployment rate – currently at 3.9 percent - “phenomenal.

“We’re going to have more jobs than the number of people available pretty soon,” he continued.

And that, according to Checolinski, is the problem the county and the SCEDC will have to address in the near term.

“The greatest obstacle to Sheboygan County’s economy moving forward is attracting a work force,” Checolinski stated.

The SCEDC will be focusing its efforts on attracting and recruiting a well-trained workforce for the county, both home-grown and from outside the county, he said.

“Our companies are really striving for some of that talent out there,” Checolinski said.

“It’s great that in a few short years we’ve gone from needing jobs to needing people,” County Board Chairman Roger TeStroete commented.

The SCEDC is a public-private partnership created to lead economic development efforts countywide. Its efforts include recruiting new business and industry, retaining those that are here, aiding workforce development efforts and providing other services to business and local governments.

The county is one of the largest financial contributors to the SCEDC.

The county put off adoption of an ordinance granting a 1.57 percent pay increase for non-union county employees.

County Administrator Adam Payne noted that the county has recently completed a consultant’s study of pay ranges for all county employees.

That study showed that of 825 county employees, about 30 are below the proposed minimum pay rate in the report, while 70 or so are above the maximum pay range.

The county is looking to implement the new pay ranges by the first of next year, Payne said. The Human Resources Committee will be taking another looking at the pay raise ordinance in light of the consultant’s recommendations, he added.

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