BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – October 20, 2015 – In 2013, the Chamber released the Urgent Call to Action Study which noted that in manufacturing alone, South Central Kentucky will have 4,500 open positions by 2016, representing $3 billion in gross domestic product in the 10 county South Central Kentucky region. The job openings will double to 9,000 by 2020. At the same time, Bowling Green’s economy continues to grow with 14 announcements in 2015 alone, bringing a total capital investment of $824,257,235 and the creation of 813 new jobs. In order to support that growth, South Central Kentucky must have a strong talent pipeline.
In response, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is implementing several initiatives to ensure that pipeline is in place for our businesses. From a $1.4 million private sector investment for The Leader in Me in our schools to the development of career academies in our high schools to the development of a Preferred Employer Network that ensures companies receive candidates that possess desired credentials, the Chamber offers a full slate of solutions ensure that our companies have the talent they need.
The Chamber is also increasing outreach outside our region to attract the highest quality candidates for our businesses. Thanks to the efforts of Speaker Pro Tem Jody Richards, the Chamber partnered with the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) earlier this fall to bring South Central Kentucky businesses to their 2nd Annual Mega Job Fair for workers affected by the recent downturn in the coal economy – a partnership that has already proven to be successful.
Tim Pilkin has spent his entire life working in Eastern Kentucky, but in 2012, Tim was laid off from his job at Blue Diamond Coal Company. After struggling to find enough hours to support a family while traveling over an hour to available jobs, he completed the 2 year auto mechanic program at Hazard Community College. However, even that newly minted professional certification was not enough to help Tim find employment close to home that would allow him to support his family.
On September 22nd, Tim attended The EKCEP’s second annual Mega Job Fair where South Central Kentucky companies including Bendix, Bowling Green Metalforming, and Kiriu USA and the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce were hoping to attract dislocated workers from the mountain region.
By October 6th, Tim had a job with Kiriu USA and a $3700 stipend for moving expenses. With help from Chamber partner Staybridge Suites, Tim moved his family to Bowling Green on October 10th and started his new job at Kiriu USA on October 12th. According to Mr. Pilkin, “We are so excited to have the opportunity with Kiriu USA here in Bowling Green. I am so happy to have found a great job and opportunities to support my family here in South Central Kentucky.”
According to Kiriu USA Assistant Human Resources Manager Tabbatha Lottes, “Kiriu USA has several open positions and finding workforce has been a challenge for us in recent months. We are thankful that the Bowling Green Chamber invited us to join them on the trip to the EKCEP job fair in September. We met several qualified candidates that day, and are delighted to now have one of those candidates working in our facility.”
Chamber President and CEO Ron Bunch noted, “Supporting our businesses with a highly skilled workforce is our number one priority at the Chamber and that’s why we’ve developed a suite of initiatives that combine to serve numerous populations and needs. We are delighted to see that our effort in reaching out to other regions has produced some great qualified candidates for our companies and we look forward to continuing that work.”
For more information on how you can learn more about the Chamber’s extensive workforce initiatives, contact Christina Beliles at Christina@bgchamber.com.