Fort Dodge must remain competitive

Tight labor marketplace makes enhancement initiatives crucial

It wasn’t so many years ago when community leaders all across the nation were worried about high unemployment rates. Fortunately, our nation’s booming economy has put that concern in the rearview mirror — at least for now. The labor market is tight all across the United States with the national unemployment statistic for January at an impressively low 4 percent. Here in Iowa the situation is even better. In December, the Hawkeye State led all American states with a truly remarkable unemployment rate of 2.4 percent. That was the third consecutive month our state had achieved that almost unbelievably low number.

Here in Webster County the December unemployment number was 3.0 percent. It was even lower in all the adjacent counties. Everywhere anyone goes in north central Iowa “hiring” signs are in evidence on a wide array of businesses and other enterprises. That is very good news for anyone looking for work.

The tight labor market in our area — and all across Iowa — means that companies seeking to expand or considering locating here need to assess carefully whether or not they will be able to find the workers they need to prosper. Those communities that are viewed as desirable places to live and raise families will be better able to meet that challenge than those that are not. An array of initiatives are underway or under consideration locally to improve housing opportunities and make Fort Dodge a community with more attractive shopping, recreational and entertainment options. These undertakings are crucial to the future of our town and county.

“(We are) trying to improve the quality of life for the worker to make it more desirable for people to move to Fort Dodge to take these jobs,” Dennis Plautz, chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, told The Messenger recently. “We have to be looking at ways to provide the adequate workforce for these companies. It’s a high priority.”

The Messenger strongly agrees. In a labor market with robust competition for employees, companies will be more likely to invest in places workers find desirable to call home. A superb and improving quality of life for residents can give our town a vital advantage. Companies will be willing to locate or expand here if they view it as a community easy to sell to the employees they must recruit.

Governmental, business and community leaders in our town and county understand that enhancing the appeal of our region to present and potential residents is one of the keys to keeping the local economy on the upswing. They are working hard to achieve improvements. We urge our readers to support these efforts. The future looks very bright indeed if we can attract the workforce needed to enable continued growth.