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SBJ Economic Growth Survey: Publisher's Note

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Opportunity abounds in Springfield for workforce development despite the challenges of the past year and those that still lie ahead. This was my assessment following the second forum discussion of Springfield Business Journal’s Economic Growth Survey on Aug. 4 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. It will likely be your assessment as well, as you read the next several pages and hear from area business and community leaders facing each challenge head on.

Workforce development has long topped the list as a barrier to economic development and growth in the area. However, the surrounding circumstances have obviously changed with the pandemic, and so have the solutions. The conversations are about new legislation that addresses some of the barriers to employment faced by working parents earning wages at the bottom of the spectrum. Others are about the lengths some employers are going to in order to attract and incentivize workers through culture, training and even bonuses. We hear about knocking down local employment barriers through education and life skills training. More opportunities are in the efforts underway to address housing and infrastructure to attract and accommodate needed growth of a working population.

The recent Workforce Development forum featured three professionals telling their stories of career changes and their key motivating factors. Each had a very different experience and set of circumstances. But they shared at least one thing in common: They discovered their next steps through an expansion of their networks. Talking to other people and meeting them where they are was the springboard for change. The Economic Growth Survey forums are the perfect place to continue the kind of discussion that leads to discovery, solutions and action. Please join me and a host of area business leaders for the four remaining forums.

Opportunity is knocking. I encourage you to answer.

SBJ 2021 Economic Growth Survey collected April 12-May 4. Survey sample size of 309, with a +/- 5.6% margin of error and 95% confidence interval.

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