The Junction City/Geary County job market doesn’t lack for openings — just people to fill them. ACT, Smithfield Foods, and Footlocker have more than 500 jobs open between them according to Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Dennis Beson.
“We are struggling for people,” he said.
The question is how officials might help these businesses fill their empty positions.
For the past few months, Beson has been working on creating a county-wide marketing plan. He believes such a concentrated effort to market all of the area’s good points outside of this region could bring more people in — filling empty houses and rentals, and building the local workforce. The City of Junction City, Geary County, Geary Community Hospital, Milford Lake, the City of Milford, Grandview Plaza, the Realtors’ Association, Cloud County Community College, and Unified School District 475 have expressed interest in the project. Each entity involved would help to fund the marketing effort.
“Our buying power becomes much better... if we all contribute in some fashion,” Beson said.
If every group involved contributed $5,000 to $10,000 to the effort, it would come to a substantial amount which could be put toward having a professional firm create the marketing plan.
Each entity will have a representative in a group dedicated to the plan. It’s up to the group to decide whether or not the plan is ultimately beneficial and thus deserving of funds.
This isn’t the only effort being made to build Geary County’s workforce. The Economic Development Commission has also made strides with its Work-Ready program.
The program has most of the businesses it needs on board — it still needs about six to recognize work-ready certification — but the main focus right now is on finding a time to do testing. In order to achieve their goals, officials would have to test about 150 to 170 emerging workers — high school students.
One problem with this is that students at Junction City High School already have quite a few tests to take. It takes about three hours to take a Work-Ready test.
At the moment, officials dedicated to this program are focused on testing emerging workers who will likely enter the workforce right after graduating high school, without attending college.
These students might have fewer tests to take than the usual high school student — if they don’t have plans for post-secondary education, they might not need to take the ACT, for example.