Economic Development News

Reacting Proactively
Job Fair to be held October 29 for DST employees
Published: Thursday, October 23, 2014
By: Shaun Sappenfield

Although the words “reacting” and “proactive” are not often used in the same thought, there are times when our immediate reaction leads to proactive responses and problem-solving. 

On a daily basis, the Chamber’s Economic Development staff works to identify and facilitate growth opportunities for the community on a whole host of levels.  Daily activities lead staff in a multitude of directions from community development projects involving potential partnerships with the city and county, specific business attraction projects, existing business expansions and educational assistance to the small business community.  But, sometimes the coin flips and Chamber staff must quickly refocus their attention to situations that could have a negative impact on our community. 

Recently, DST Systems, Inc. which is a global provider of technology-based solutions announced they will be closing their office located in the Monroe Bluffs Executive Center on December 31 of this year.  The closure will impact seventy individuals, all possessing high-demand skill sets within the field of information technology.  In a recent press release provided by DST Systems, the company pointed to the following reasons for their recent decision - “reductions are function of ongoing efforts to create and maintain sustainable business reflective of the current and anticipated market conditions.” 

 In light of this news, the Chamber refocused their efforts to “retention mode” and reached out to various local information technology businesses to discuss current job opportunities and avenues to promptly connect local businesses directly with DST Systems employees.  The Chamber’s aggressiveness to act is driven by two factors - the need to assist dislocated employees in finding new employment and retaining DST’s talent pool before they are lured away by businesses in other communities outside our labor market.  Within any community, growing and retaining a highly skilled workforce is a must in today’s economy. 

To make this quick connection, the Chamber organized a job fair slated for October 29 at the Capitol Plaza to engage current DST employees.  The Chamber quickly began soliciting the business community to identify local businesses with current and imminent job opportunities and invited them to attend the upcoming job fair.  In addition, the Missouri Division of Workforce Development –Employment Transition Team which provides dislocated worker training assistance and information on unemployment benefits will be present to offer support.

 In 2013, the Chamber organized a similar job fair for dislocated employees due to the closing of RR Donnelley and as a result of this action; numerous RR Donnelley employees were absorbed by local employers.  “In this difficult situation, we were happy to provide a positive solution for some of the RRD employees," said Darla Porter, Vice President of Human Resources with Modern Litho.  "Modern Litho connected with them during the job fair and ultimately found positions for a dozen very talented individuals."

The Chamber focuses a lot of their attention on opportunities for growth throughout the community but certain situations call for agile and creative strategies to help retain talent within our local labor market.  It is critical for any organization focused on economic development to remain nimble when addressing issues affecting the local economy and the Jefferson City Chamber is structured to provide this function. 

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