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APEX News - January 2018
APEX PINNACLE

In This Special Workforce Issue

APEX Focuses on regional workforce

At the close of another busy and productive year, we wanted to share some of our key efforts to strengthen and highlight regional workforce initiatives. Many industries are growing in the APEX region, and we've had companies choose to expand and locate here because of our strategic location, rich natural resources and, most importantly, our productive workforce.
The time to prepare the next generation of workers is now. Over the next decade, we’re anticipating growth in the manufacturing industry alone, while over 20% of the workforce will retire. According to the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, this will create a shortfall of over 2 million workers. This trend has the potential to impact many industries that thrive in the Northland.

With these projections, APEX, our investor-members and other partners planned, hosted or attended many events to address the evolving regional workforce. These events provided the background and acted as a catalyst to several ongoing workforce development conversations and initiatives.

New Northforce Website

In 2017, NORTHFORCE launched a new website to better connect talented individuals with careers in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. The new website includes streamlined navigation so potential job candidates can zero in on positions that best suit their skills. With an expanded profile, applicants can better showcase their education, knowledge and skill set to potential employers.
NORTHFORCE also made it easier for employers to share new job postings and screen applicants. In addition, the new website focuses on developing the region’s workforce by sharing upcoming events and trainings as well as through leadership and best practices.

Lastly, the new website showcases Mentor Connection, a NORTHFORCE initiative that pairs business leaders with local college students to create lasting relationships and valuable connections. Mentor Connection is designed to develop the region’s next generation of talent and leadership.

For more information on NORTHFORCE contact APEX Senior Business Developer, Ian Vincent.

Talent Recruitment and HR Panel at July Board Meeting

APEX’s July board meeting focused on talent recruitment and human resources – one of the key critical business areas identified by APEX membership to focus on in 2017.
Roundtable discussion regarding human resources and talent recruitment at the July APEX Board meeting.
Several human resources professionals led investor-members in small group discussions and provided advice based on their specific experiences: APEX has been an advocate of hiring and promoting interns within the organization for nearly 10 years. For the past four years, APEX has invited investor-members to bring their interns to the July Board meeting. At this meeting, the interns actively participated in roundtable discussions regarding talent recruitment and retention.

Manufacturing Month Involvement

As the manufacturing and fabrication industries continue to shift, APEX investor-members cite workforce development as a top area of concern. To address this concern, APEX ramped up efforts with the Arrowhead Manufacturers & Fabricators Association (AMFA) to ensure a strong future workforce for the manufacturing and fabrication industries.
 
Sandy Johnson, APEX Manager of Member Relations and Administration, took the lead in creating and disseminating posters and brochures about manufacturing career pathways to regional tech schools and workforce development centers as well as middle and high schools.

This effort happened in October to coincide with Manufacturing Month. The materials were used as recruiting tools for regional manufacturers. Since area businesses are currently in need of welders, machinists and A & P mechanics, the materials illustrated the educational requirements and pay scales for each career path along with regional employers seeking these types of workers.
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Educating and Recruiting efforts for Forest Products Industry (North Star Expo)

In September, APEX participated in the Minnesota Timber Producers Association’s 64th annual North Star Expo. The event, held at the Itasca County Fairgrounds in Grand Rapids, is the state’s largest logging, trucking and sawmill equipment show. The event showcases our region’s booming forest products industry. The widely-recognized event is attended and supported by Itasca Economic Development Corporation, local business owners, logging professionals, policy makers, including Congressman Rick Nolan, regional chambers of commerce, industry stakeholders, and more.
Tamara Lowney, APEX Senior Business Developer, addresses participants.
During the Expo, students learned about the nuances and importance of the forest industry to the local and national economy.
In 2017, Tamara Lowney, APEX Senior Business Developer, played a leadership role in helping convene partners, organize participants, and execute the student portion of the event. The NORTHFORCE team also helped highlight career paths and opportunities for students and local community members. “Both APEX and NORTHFORCE are committed to building a bridge between industry and students. Participating in the Expo is one way to ensure we are helping to build the region’s next generation workforce,” stated Brian Hanson, APEX President and CEO.
 
To participate in next year’s expo, contact Tamara Lowney.

International Workforce Panel at November Board Meeting

Finding employees, specifically in the tourism industry, has been a challenge in the APEX region. This issue has been compounded by the actions of the federal government to limit programs that provide temporary international workers.
 
In November, APEX hosted an international workforce panel at the Board of Directors meeting to help investor-members understand the benefits and nuances of leveraging international workers. The panel, moderated by Tamara Lowney, APEX Senior Business Developer, included Loan Huynh, with Fredrikson & Byron, Bettina Milosz, an intern with APEX and an international student, Cyndy Reno, with Island Investments, and Stacie Tollaksen, with Intrax.
Tamara Lowney, APEX, Bettina Milosz, APEX, Cyndy Reno, Island Investments, Loan Huynh, Fredrikson & Byron, Stacie Tollaksen, Intrax
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APEX Investor-Members Donate Cold Weather Work Gear to ISD 709

Students in ISD 709’s Construction Technology program have already learned a lot about the construction trade this year. They’ve been working in collaboration with Lake Superior College’s College Construction Program to build a home in the Duluth area. The high school students are responsible for building the garage.
Scott Kyrola with Northland Constructors, Mel Olson with United Piping, Inc., Craig Fellman with The Jamar Company, Sandy Johnson with APEX, Tony Leone with ISD 709, a group of students wearing their new gear and Brad Vieths with ISD 709.
Not pictured is Kirk Ilenda with The Boldt Company.
The hands-on experience is essential for providing students with real-world working experience, but as temperatures dropped, conditions became unsafe. Despite the cold weather, the students didn’t want to leave their project unfinished.

That’s when Brad Vieths, Vocational Program Coordinator at ISD 709 reached out to APEX for help. The response from Sandy Johnson and many APEX investor-members was astounding. They seized this excellent opportunity to support the next generation of trades workers.
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