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City, SDC partner on workforce recruitment effort

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Stark Development Corporation

Retention is no longer enough.

Dickinson needs to actively recruit workers to meet area workforce needs, Mayor Scott Decker said at a joint meeting of City Commissioners and Stark Development Corporation.

"We are going to have to start recruiting," Decker said Tuesday. "In the past we were trying to save people and keep people from leaving, and now it's the opposite."

The region's workforce needs are great, SDC Executive Vice President Ryan Jilek said.

"The biggest thing we're lacking in right now is bodies to fill jobs," he said. "We could grow a lot faster if we had a lot of those bodies to do things. Talking with manufacturers, they're all growing, but they could grow faster if they had a catalogue of resumes coming in for people who want to show up to work."

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As part of its contract with the City of Dickinson, SDC hosts a yearly joint meeting between two boards to discuss SDC's long-term goals and future plans.

The city commission provides feedback on SDC efforts, and the two boards work together to address greater area issues.

Together, the two entities have launched a proactive recruitment effort.

"We've got everybody trying to fill spots at places around town, whoever has job openings," Jilek said, "but we don't have a concerted effort that says, here's what Dickinson's all about and why you should be here."

A key component of recruitment efforts will be marketing.

Dickinson-based Vuk Multimedia has been hired to put together videos and create a new City of Dickinson website.

"That'll be a landing page to be able to track some of those metrics, and trying to get out there and attract and bring some new workforce in," Jilek said.

Dickinson "doesn't do a great job of telling our story," Jilek said.

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"You Google Dickinson and it's hard to get a good picture of really what Dickinson is about," he said. "Fargo, you see a bunch of happy faces, and ours is some buildings and landscapes here and there."

He added, "We need to get out that vision of what Dickinson is."

The 2020 Federal Census will also be a significant effort for the city.

"Our numbers are still based on job service numbers. Even our median age dropped again," Jilek said. "We're below 34 years now. We're at 33.9. Those numbers just keep compounding that our community is getting younger, it's growing."

He added, "Birth numbers are still off-the-charts and we're seeing record enrollment in our schools."

With North Dakota boasting the most millennials per capita in the nation, according to a June article on MoneyRates.com, and entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of opportunities in the state, access to daycares and schools are both critical, Decker said.

"That's going to be a challenge for us recruiting into the future," he said. "No matter how good a message we put out as a county or city, if we don't have the adequate facilities for education, we're basically shooting ourselves in the foot."

He added, "I'm glad to continue this joint effort."

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