We’re already planning for our 2018 Economic Development Fall Meeting on October 30, but the topic is one that came up in every panel discussion at our 2017 event. Even before the 2017 Fall Meeting adjourned, we knew what our topic would be for 2018—workforce.
Last year, our Fall Meeting included three panel discussions: The Changing Nature of Retail, Entrepreneurship, and the new Medical Cannabis industry in the State of Maryland. All panelists were business owners and operators who had first-hand experience in starting and growing businesses in a variety of industries and sectors. Each had unique insights about operating a business, but one after another, each panelist shared the same specific need: finding and retaining qualified workers.
Workforce in Charles County
Workforce is a key factor – many say the number one factor – in attracting and retaining companies in any jurisdiction. That’s why we put workforce front and center in our marketing when we say that “Charles County is dynamic community 25 miles from Washington DC with a lower cost of doing business and talented, well-educated workforce.”
We know this is true from Census data that year after year show our percentages of well-educated professionals living in Charles County going up. (In 2000, only 20% of Charles County adults 25 and over had a four-year degree or more. Today the number is 27.4%.)
The Commute Outside the County
We also know that 64% of these talented, well-educated workers commute out of the county to work in Washington DC and adjacent suburbs. Specifics of where they go, who they work for, and what kind of work they do are in a recently-completed commuter study we commissioned from Towson University’s Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI). Outcomes of that study will be presented at our Fall Meeting by the Chief Economist at RESI, Dr. Darius Irani. Information from that report will inform efforts to tap into and enhance initiatives to connect our workers and employers.
Workforce Development: Training our Workers
We will also address workforce development. That is, what are we doing and what resources do we have to train workers – both for jobs today and for the jobs of the future. Our commuter study showed that many new residents have chosen to live in Charles County because of the excellent education system, especially those in higher paying managerial jobs. We will include our educators in the workforce development discussion along with our Southern Maryland Workforce Development Board staff who support employers through recruitment and hiring assistance as well as training for new and incumbent workers.
Kelly Schulz, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, has been invited to be our keynote speaker for the Fall Meeting; she will address workforce and workforce development resources at the state level. We have already received a positive reply from her office to our invitation.
SAVE THE DATE
Mark your calendar for the Annual Economic Development Fall Meeting, Tuesday, October 30, 2018, 8:00 am to Noon. If you’re not familiar, this half-day conference is where we update the community on our activity and progress for the past year – in greater detail than what we can provide at our shorter Quarterly Business Roundtables. And we invite speakers and panelists to discuss topics relevant to Charles County’s business development activity.
More details and registration information will be coming soon. In the meantime, save the date on your calendar.