Vol. 2, No. 8  |  Third Quarter 2017
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Proud to be a part of 'innovating Branson'!

You may have seen the Biz 417 article promoting '10 for the Next 10' - ten young professionals from 417-land to watch for the next ten years. I am honored to be a part of this group of dynamic, creative and innovative young folks from our region and so proud to represent Branson, celebrating the momentum and change that has happened throughout Taney County over the last few years.

I work with an amazing team at Taney County Partnership, the Branson Chamber and CVB that help us all make waves and move the needle on workforce and economic development issues. I've said this before, but I truly believe that the challenges we face as a county and as a region in this area are totally solvable. 

Thanks to partners like you, we are collaborating and working to develop quality programming that makes a difference. This summer, many employers are reporting higher employment rates in hard-to-fill positions. More than 700 international college students are living, working and contributing to economic growth in our area. Your participation in groups such as the Taney County Partnership board, OnPoint Workforce Collaborative, the Hispanic Workforce Coalition and others, helps create a catalyst for this positive growth that is happening here. We would not be on this path without your support!

I encourage you to read through the profiles of these young professionals who are making positive change throughout the Ozarks. I am proud to be recognized with these fine folks and as always, look forward to working alongside you as we continue to "innovate Branson" together.

Cheers to us!

Heather Hardinger
Programs and Communications Director, Taney County Partnership
Welcome the new Workforce Programs Coordinator, Mercedes Botica!

Mercedes Botica came on board as a shared employee through a partnership with the Branson Chamber and Cultural Exchange Network (CENET) in July 2017. She will oversee the new Talent Attraction Program, coordinating  the Branson J-1 efforts through CENET  and the Puerto Rico Recruitment Program with Taney County Partnership.

Mercedes comes to us from a background in banking with Great Southern Bank and Branson Bank where she assisted J-1 participants and the Hispanic community in Branson with their banking needs.

She was raised here in Branson and has been active in the community for more than 15 years. Fully bi-lingual in Spanish, Mercedes is also heading up the Hispanic Workforce Coalition through TCP, working to address the topics that are relevant to the Hispanic community in Taney County.

Please join us in welcoming Mercedes to our team! She can be reached at mbotica@taneycountypartnership.com or mercedes@cenet.org .
Unemployment numbers in Taney County were slightly lower in June 2017 at *4.5 % as they were at the same time in 2016 at *5.8%.  Highlights of the Ozark Regional Profile for the month show an overall unemployment rate of 3.6% for the Ozarks Region.

Check out the  April 2017  Labor Market Summary of real time labor market analysis for the Ozark Region.
 *Rates variable and subject to change

2017 MO Young Professionals Summit

Ignite Branson is traveling to Columbia on  Wednesday, September 13  for the 2017 MOYP Summit !

Young professionals from around the state will gather for this one-day conference where we will learn how to make bold decisions, be able to identify opportunities and know what employers are looking for in their employees and potential employees.

Tickets are $40 if purchased by 8/30 or $50 if purchased after 8/30.  Ignite will provide transportation to and from Columbia for those attending. 


Next OnPoint Workforce Collaborative Meeting:
Tuesday, September 12 | 8-9 a.m. | Branson Chamber

Join area employers, service providers and community partners to  to address and develop solutions to the county's Workforce Development issues. We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month, 8 a.m. at the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce. We always have hot coffee and sometimes donuts!

Want to be a guest speaker at our monthly meeting to share information related to workforce development in the Tri-Lakes area? Email Heather for more information on how to present at one of our upcoming meetings.

Please Help #SaveH2B
As you know, Homeland Security Secretary Kelly announced on July 19 a final rule that increased the fiscal 2017 H-2B cap by 15,000 visas. In announcing the rule, the Secretary stressed that this action is a one-time cap increase that will expire on Sept. 30, 2017. In order for employers in our area to utilize the H-2B program, Congress will need to pass H-2B Cap Relief for fiscal year 2018 and beyond.
To encourage Congress in these endeavors, supporters should to continue to engage their lawmakers by doing the following:
  • Call your Senators and Representative them to cosponsor legislation to fix the H-2B program.
  • Ask your Senators to cosponsor S. 792, the Save Our Small And Seasonal Businesses Act Of 2017.
  • Ask your Representative to cosponsor H.R. 2004, the Strengthen Employment And Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act. 
If you do not know their direct numbers, you can reach them through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 . Once connected to the office, ask to speak to the person who handles H-2B issues.
Updated coalition talking points can be found here and have been provided by the H-2B Workforce Coalition.
How to Foster Workplace Diversity
an article by Workable's Nikoletta Bika

Diversity is generally accepted as an  asset to modern teams . Research has shown that it can result in greater  innovation and market growth and often drives better  financial results . And there's no doubt that employers have better odds of hiring the right people when they consider a diverse talent pool.  But, making workplace diversity work poses challenges. 
  • Minority groups feel undervalued and rarely speak up
  • Majority groups feel alienated by efforts to enhance diversity
  • Cultural conflicts arise and can distract teams from solving work problems
  • Team members create closed networks (or cliques)
Talent leaders must work together to untangle the best ways to find, assess, keep and promote talent and enhance diversity within organizations and communities. To help manage diverse teams, leaders can ask themselves three questions:
  • How can I make all team members feel valued?
  • How can I facilitate collaboration between team members?
  • How can I always lead by example?
CLICK HERE to learn a few things to consider to help foster diversity and improve team cohesion!
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We always welcome new voices and perspectives on economic development, workforce development and related fields! Contact us to find out more about becoming a contributor, providing feedback or suggesting a topic.