Benson studying how to bring workers here to fill job vacancies

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By Reed Anfinson

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Publisher’s Note: This is the second of a series of stories about the discussions on the future growth opportunities and challenges of the area.

 

Rural Minnesota faces multiple challenges now that will only get worse in the years to come. It has hundreds of businesses that are desperate for workers, but they struggle to attract new employees from other regions or large cities.

Too often, employees are simply shifting around in rural Minnesota.

Looming like a threatening storm on the horizon is impact of the retirement of the Baby Boom generation from the workforce in rural Minnesota.

Benson is not by any means alone in trying to solve the problems of attracting workers to a rural small town. There are over 19,495 incorporated cities in the United States, with 76 percent – 14,768 – having fewer than 5,000 people, according to the U.S. Census.

Many of those cities are searching for the same solutions Benson is to bring new workers to the community and find housing for them. They want to ensure they have enough things for adults and children to do after work, and school, that are fun and entertaining.

Employment ads in the Swift County Monitor-News show the need for new workers in a wide variety of business, public service and industry.

Job postings include: Delivery drivers, warehouse staff, mechanics, welders, cooks, construction equipment operators, electrical technicians, human resources coordinators, youth counselors, mechanical maintenance workers, home health aides, meat processing staff, bulk milk truck drivers, feed truck operators, nursing assistants, concrete delivery truck drivers, a wide variety of medical staff from registered nurses to admissions staff to EMTs, auto mechanics, and the list goes on and on.

Employers are offering  $500 to $5,000 signing bonuses and higher wages, but still can’t find employees.

Last month, members of the Benson Economic Development Authority (RDA), Benson City Council, Swift County Rural Development Authority, and Benson Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC), sat down for a conversation about the economic challenges facing the community. 

The purpose of the meeting was to come up with a list of the challenges and proposals for meeting them. Those discussions led to a focus on three areas: housing, workforce, and marketing....

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