The Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership is pleased to announce our strong support for the Owosso Public Schools’ bond proposal.
Our organization works to attract, retain and grow jobs and investment in Shiawassee County, and we are happy to report that tremendous progress is being made in our local economy. At our annual meeting in June, we reported the following key statistics:
- 4 percent unemployment rate – lowest since 2000
- 3,100+ more people employed than in January 2010 (auto industry bankruptcy)
- Median household income has risen over $2,000 from 2013 to 2015 (latest year available)
Despite these positive trends, there is a major problem limiting our economic growth – a lack of available skilled talent.
Today, our clients (who represent the businesses that are bringing $ into our community and helping to grow it) have hundreds of openings (with living wages) that are going unfilled across the county, across a variety of sectors, including manufacturing, healthcare, agribusiness, information technology, and transportation, distribution and logistics.
There is so much opportunity out there, so why is this happening? It really comes down to two factors – a lack of vocational training and experience to match the skills these companies need, and a decline in our workforce population (e.g. people moving away, retirements, etc.)
The bond proposal being offered by Owosso Public Schools has the unique ability to successfully tackle both of these challenges.
How so? First, a major financial component of the bond will be to grow vocational education programming across a variety of industries. The schools are already actively engaging our employers and working on several initiatives, but they are extremely limited in what they can offer due to the high cost of training (e.g. purchasing manufacturing equipment). This funding will provide the needed space and resources necessary to give our kids the skills needed to fill these jobs directly after high school or allow them to pursue advanced education.
Second, the bond proposal will provide for a highly attractive facility that will encourage families to move to the Owosso School District, particularly from outside of Shiawassee County. This will help to grow our current labor pool (with the parents) and build for the future (with the kids). It should also be noted that by increasing the number of taxpayers in the district, it actually lessens the financial burden on existing residents. The increased demand for housing will also help to drive up property values, providing further benefit.
If we want to ensure that Owosso and Shiawassee County’s economic rebound continues, that we have a highly skilled talent pool that attracts and retains good-paying jobs, then we must vote yes on this bond proposal.
Justin Horvath, CEcD President/CEO Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership