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Workers ready for businesses to hit Hays

6/7/2013

By RANDY GONZALES

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Aaron White, executive director of Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, said there are workers available for businesses looking to find a home in Hays.

"We do have the available workforce; it's more of a hidden workforce," he told Ellis County commissioners during a presentation for funding at Monday's meeting.

"There are a large number of folks in the community, within our nine-county region, that have an interest in pursuing alternative careers, changing what they do," White said. "A large number of those folks are in the service and retail sector."

White is exploring ideas with North Central Kansas Technical College to help workers transition into new jobs. Potential workers would receive short-term, specific, general training courses.

"We kind of use the term boot camp training," for manufacturing jobs, White said.

"This is the type of thing to help those folks who don't have a strong mechanical background and would like to move into the production side of things, where the job opportunities are there," White said. "Give them the base set of skills they can take to an employer and move forward."

White said there are two small manufacturers looking to expand, and he is helping them secure facilities. One is a company that has outgrown its facilities in the downtown area, White said. The other company is looking to start a new business venture, White said.

Another company, Lion Chase, has decided to open a branch office in Hays, to market services and products for a Florida manufacturer.

"They have committed to moving to Hays and opening a branch of their facilities," White said. "It will be sales and marketing, primarily."

The manufacturer is related to power generation of clean energy.

"They view Kansas having a very significant market for some of the services and products that they offer," White said.

The company is looking for suitable space in Hays. Once that is attained, they will be up and running.

"They are getting pretty aggressive on what they think they can do in terms of hiring," White said. "They're looking at five to eight out of the gate, and if the sales and marketing in this region meet their expectations, they're talking about adding five employees every quarter for the next three years. Very progressive wages, good benefits."

"It's a little bit different type of work than anybody else in the region offers, so it's a nice diversification of our workforce base," White said.

White said he has received a few requests from companies looking for training and manufacturing centers.

"It's very early in the process, but the initial look at these look pretty positive," White said. "It's an interesting concept; it fills a need that the country is recognizing that there's a real gap in terms of skill trade."

White said a recent survey detailing what is wanted in Ellis County as far as retail choices has been helpful. He said two things can be done: approach existing businesses to see if they are interested in expanding what they offer, and if that doesn't work out, then approach retail chains about locating in Hays to fill the need.