County’s job picture has turned much rosier

IT HAS BEEN QUITE a turnaround in just a few short years. The Sheboygan County Board heard the annual report from Dane Checolinski, executive director of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp., and it was a great report.

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

According to Checolinski, the county currently has a “phenomenal” unemployment rate of 3.9 percent and ranks in the top one-eighth of all Wisconsin counties for job growth in the period from 2011 to 2014.

From where we were just a half dozen years ago – an unemployment rate that topped (or bottomed) out at nearly 11 percent as 2009 turned into 2010 – that’s a dramatic and welcome change. It’s been eight long years since the unemployment rate in the county has been this low.

The reasons for that turnaround are many and varied, and better left to analysis beyond the space available here.

But robust employment numbers like those bring challenges of their own, which Checolinski made clear to the board.

“We’re going to have more jobs than the number of people available pretty soon. The greatest obstacle to Sheboygan County’s economy moving forward is attracting a work force,” Checolinski advised the board.

But the SCEDC is taking steps to address those future needs and, more importantly, government and business are taking and have taken important steps already.

The SCEDC itself represents one of the most important strategies to meet those future needs and ensure continued economic growth – partnerships between the public and private sectors for the common good.

The SCEDC is funded by a combination of government entities and private companies. It’s mission is to lead economic development effort to retain and expand existing businesses and attract new businesses countywide.

After a few bumps and stops and starts, it has succeeded admirably thus far and should continue to do so in the future.

It is just one example of many such public-private partnerships that have fueled the county’s economic growth and will continue to do so.

We here in Plymouth have several good examples of that, including the long-standing Plymouth Economic Development Corp. that has worked for decades with city officials to create and fill several industrial parks in the city.

More recently, the city and the Plymouth School District have partnered with local employers to create two unique and visionary educational facilities – the Science and Technology Center in collaboration with Lakeshore Technical College and the soon-to-bebuilt Food Science and Agriculture Center.

Both of these efforts will continue to train and educate local students – of all ages – for the jobs that will keep Sheboygan County’s economy firing on all cylinders into the future.

It is these and many other public-private cooperative efforts that have helped rebuild Sheboygan County’s economy. They prove that we all work best when we all work together.

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