Coconino County understands that having strong communities depends upon a strong business sector and a prepared workforce. At the direction of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, the County’s Career Center shares its dynamic and unique services with local employers and job seekers.
Although you often hear about the Career Center services related to the re-employment process that occurs after a closure or downsizing of a local business (such as our Rapid Response Team working with Walgreen’s recently), the Career Center also offers a myriad of other support resources and services to bolster an employer’s success. These resources include workforce training tools, career expo and job fair partnerships, labor market information, and tax incentive information, among many others. In addition to supplying information, the Career Center also brings people together and helps employers network and learn from each other.
While employers are immersed in day-to-day operations involved in growing a business, they often don’t have the resources to cultivate innovative solutions to problems. The assistance of the County’s Career Center allows them to look beyond their own organization for innovative solutions to common challenges.
One example is the Career Center’s role in facilitating recruiting and hiring fairs for the opening of CAL Ranch. The Career Center screened all applications for the employer and helped with recruitment through a variety of sources such as newspapers, online media and radio. On the day of the Hiring Fair, staff opened the doors of the County King Street building at 7 a.m. to accommodate the large crowd of eager pre-screened candidates who arrived early for this employment opportunity. Starting operations at a new location is always costly, and the Career Center provided this employer with funds to offset the costs of hiring new staff by offering CAL Ranch wage reimbursements for 13 new hires for the first three months of their employment.
To ensure a strong workforce of our own, Coconino County provides our new employees with the True Colors assessment. This assessment gives county employees tools to understand themselves and others, and offers everyone a more effective way of communicating in the workplace. It has also been utilized with premier employers in the bioscience and manufacturing sectors in Coconino County. One employer’s “ah-ha!” moment was when he realized through the assessment that he did not have the ideal employee temperament types at his front desk and in his collections department. When he switched the staff based on the results of the assessment, an increase in productivity (and bill collections) immediately occurred.
With an eye on our up-and-coming workforce, Coconino County has been awarded grants that have helped the Board of Supervisors develop a foundation for a local youth talent pipeline. More than 500 junior high and high school students from across the county were interviewed by teachers, through surveys and in person by Career Center staff to identify their interest in manufacturing and bioscience. As a result, Rich Bowen, President/CEO of the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona (ECoNA) shared that there is an increased interest and enrollment in the CAVIAT career technical training classes at local high schools that could lead to well-paid local jobs in these fields.
We are also very proud to mention that in 2013 Coconino County invested more than $500,000 from a special grant through its Career Center to offer unique services to local manufacturing and bioscience companies that were not previously available.
The many programs offered through the Career Center to local employers have fostered an understanding of learning together, providing companies and participants an innovative way to value differences, create community, and enhance business relationships. Coconino County Career Center grants for lean process redesign, strategic planning, supervisor training, on-the-job training, True Colors and internships have helped to reduce the cost of hiring at companies such as Tepa Burger, FUSD, TGen North, Nestle Purina, Prent and Senestech. FBN
By Cynthia Seelhammer