Working Together To Ease Workforce Crunch

From the outside, and even to those in the local business community, it may have appeared to be just a small business transaction. One small business being acquired by another. To those involved closely in the deal, though, it was so much more.

“It was really important to myself, as well as Yvonne, that the talent be gainfully employed locally. She and I truly believe in that,” explains Brian Maciej, president and owner of Lime Valley Advertising. Lime Valley recently acquired VoyageurWeb from its founder Yvonne Cariveau.

“And we have Greater Mankato Growth to thank for that way of thinking,” he says. “Often times when we think of the employment resources locally we think of big business and some of our larger employers. But to get small businesses thinking along those same lines – and we certainly were thinking that way – it all goes back to Greater Mankato Growth.”

His acquisition of VoyageurWeb, a leading web development company in Mankato, is a sign that the efforts of Greater Mankato Growth to educate the region on the importance of talent retention are paying off.

“I do think that this isn’t a big business transaction in the local economy, but when we look at the greater Mankato regional marketplace, as we’ve been educated to do by GMG, small businesses thinking this way and large businesses thinking this way is a really great benefit. We didn’t want them to move away if VoyageurWeb sold. These are employees that have gone to our local colleges and are now employed locally. These individuals are invested here and raising families. “

Lime Valley now has 12 employees in Mankato, but Maciej says more growth is likely as web development services is the fastest growing area for full-service agencies.

“There may be some gaps yet in that workforce. Depending on how that portion of our business develops,” says Maciej. “Certainly in web development, design, programming, and content developers there may be opportunities for expansion going forward.”

According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, Minnesota is facing a labor force that is growing slowly, meaning workers are in great demand. That is certainly evident in Southern Minnesota. It is such a concern with employers in our region, that Greater Mankato Growth has convened a talent task force. It is made up of 13 key business and community leaders. “A hallmark of our community has always been to intentionally and strategically shape the future we hope to achieve, rather than let the future simply happen” said Greater Mankato Growth, Inc. President and CEO, Jonathan Zierdt. “Ideas being explored in the recruitment and retention areas include student loan forgiveness, tuition reimbursement and scholarships to attract the large local college population; ride-share and busing programs for people who don’t have vehicles; daycare programs and after-school activities to address childcare challenges.”

But the task force is not going it alone. They’ve held what they call Workforce Talent Summits.

Zierdt says, “The looming workforce shortage cannot be taken on by any one private, public, or community organization. This must be a community-wide endeavor. The Greater Mankato community will need to coordinate actions and responses that will help fill job vacancies and increase the overall pool of talent. Proactive and purposeful talent attraction and retention will make the biggest impact on the workforce shortage. By participating in our workforce talent summits, attendees will be empowered to lead, collectively work, and more importantly, engage and mobilize the broader community and business professionals to participate in advancing solutions in areas where they can be most helpful. The region needs everyone’s insight, resources and influence to approach this specific community visioning work, similar to how we approached Envision2020.”

GMG says Lime Valley and VoyageurWeb’s commitment to keeping that talent local is evidence the business community is buying in.

Greater Mankato Growth’s Director of Regional Business Intelligence, John Considine III says, “There is already a talent shortage in the region and we know that we have employers that are working feverishly to try to figure out how to attract talent to their workforce; they are struggling to keep up with the demand. It’s a great situation to be in, that business is so robust but at the same time if you don’t have people to fill those orders or provide those services then it’s pretty difficult to continue to grow business.” Considine went on to say “In this case, an acquisition between two of our members is a prime example of what we hope to see in terms of talent retention. Those employees have invested in the community and keeping them here is fueling the growth of our regional economy.”

Lisa Cownie

Lisa Cownie

Editor of Connect Business Magazine

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