Southwest Minnesota is currently experiencing a workforce shortage. Unemployment rates are between 3 and 4 percent in this area, and the challenges with recruiting and retaining employees are impacting area businesses. At the same time, employees face barriers at providing for themselves and their families.

As a result, five regional employers in Redwood County, the Lower Sioux Indian Community, Kandiyohi County, and Meeker County have partnered with Southwest Initiative Foundation to launch Minnesota’s first Employer Resource Network (ERN) to assist companies in supporting working families while driving business growth.

Members include Jackpot Junction Casino & Hotel, part of the Lower Sioux Indian Community; Jonti-Craft in Wabasso, Bethesda – with locations in Willmar, Olivia and New London; Minnesota Rubber & Plastics and Towmaster Trailers and Truck Equipment in Litchfield.

Southwest Initiative Foundation is combining job retention services, work supports, education and training. ERNs also work with community service providers like social service agencies, workforce development groups, chambers of commerce, economic development groups and community and technical colleges or other training institutions.

Jean Spaulding of Spicer has been hired by Southwest Initiative Foundation as the Employer Resource Network Success Coach. She will spend time onsite with member companies and meet with employees to identify issues they’re facing.