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7 Ways Berea is Working to Attract New Jobs

07.31.17 10:34 AM – Andy McDonald
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Now and then you’ll hear the complaint that not enough is being done to attract new jobs to Berea. The attitude seems to be, “Sure we’ve got our big manufacturers in town, but what has the city done for us lately?” It turns out a lot is being done, and here are examples of things Berea is doing to create new opportunities:

1. PUBLIC WORKS LEAD TO WORK: Ensuring infrastructure (streets, sewer, water, electric) adequately serves the needs of local industries is crucial. But it’s often underappreciated. Because of increasing demand, Novelis recently announced an expansion of their operation to accommodate increased traffic. This year. Hitachi expanded its facility, too. It says a lot that those multinational companies are investing in their Berea facilities, and those investments will lead to additional jobs. Would those investments be likely if the city neglected infrastructure? Not a chance.

2. FAMILY FRIENDLY WORKPLACE: The Berea City Council recently passed a measure that would allow day care facilities to operate in industrial zones. If a company builds and operates a daycare center near its factory, that will make the employer a very attractive option for working parents. That’s especially important now because all the jobs in town weren’t being filled. It’s a very smart move that may make workers easier to recruit and retain.

3. MORE CAREER OPTIONS FOR NON-COLLEGE BOUND KIDS: The city, along with other Madison County institutions, has been partnering to create a vocational school that can be accessed by Berea students. That will give the city’s young people more career options, allowing them to learn a trade that will make them attractive to local manufacturers and give them a path to success that doesn’t necessarily have to go through college.

4. WELCOMING TECH WORKERS: The city’s Economic Development Committee has looked at high-tech alternatives to traditional industries, such as creating a technology center where “remote workers” (tech workers) can do business and network with other professionals. We have people in Berea who work for companies based in other states (and make a very good living while contributing to Berea’s tax base). Certain city leaders are aggressively pushing for policies to take advantage of this growing trend to help Berea capitalize on the information/Internet-driven economy.

5.GETTING THE MESSAGE OUT: Berea’s Business Development Department is creating many tools that market Berea’s industrial park more aggressively, such as an updated website, and it partners with other city departments to make sure city industrial properties are ready to show to industrial clients. With those tools and strategies, prospective retail and industrial clients can take virtual tours of available real estate at their convenience, making Berea more competitive.

6. BUILDING OUR AIRPORT: Berea has consistently contributed to efforts to expand and upgrade the Central Kentucky Regional Airport, which serves local industry. Now executives routinely fly in to do business in Berea, Richmond and Madison County (and boy, are their arms tired!) and the facility will become increasingly important in the region’s future economic development.

7. FIGHTING DRUGS: Often overlooked is the fact that the Berea Police Department is partnering with other law enforcement agencies in Madison County to fight the scourge of drug abuse, including reaching out to our youth. It may be a peripheral piece of the puzzle in industrial development, but it is an increasingly critical one. If prospective workers can’t kick their drug habit, or if they aren’t sufficiently encouraged at a young age to stay off drugs in the first place, they probably can’t pass a drug test. If young people can’t pass a drug test, they can’t work. Fighting drug abuse in Berea and Madison County isn’t just about maintaining a high quality of life in the city, now it is also about maintaining an able and marketable workforce that can help draw new jobs.

All of those elements are ways Berea is investing in industrial development.

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