Chamber Meets Representative Dudley Greene on Staffing Issues
May 28, 2021, McDowell, NC—The McDowell Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Kim Effler and staff met with North Carolina Representative Dudley Greene to discuss the issue of staffing on behalf of its members on Friday, May 28, 2021.
"After hearing from many of our members who expressed concern regarding staffing issues in their businesses, we conducted a survey to get some hard data from which to work," said Effler.
Ten out of the 24 respondents said they were experiencing above average problems not only filling positions but getting people to apply. Five said the problem was severe, 5 had no issues, 1 had somewhat of a problem and the remaining three said their employment issues were normal at this time. The survey showed that businesses have been working to fill positions from up to six months to a year and have used all manner of services to get the word out. From employment services, NC Works, the Chamber job board, the newspapers, hosting job fairs, asking previous employees to come back and have even used yard signs to attract workers.
Greene shared that the issue is a statewide issue in all industries and sizes of businesses. He was encouraged by Governor Roy Cooper's announcement to once again require those out of work and receiving benefits to prove they are looking for a job. "I'm hopeful that will help matters, but it is an issue," he said.
The Governor issued an executive order Friday, providing new directives for people who are receiving unemployment benefits transition back into employment.
“Unemployment benefits have provided a critical lifeline for many North Carolinians living on the edge due to the pandemic. As our state emerges from the pandemic, we want to help people safely return to work as soon as possible. Reinstating the work search guidelines will help connect claimants with employers, resources and tools to help them return to the workforce,” Cooper said.
Survey respondents expressed frustration but also offered suggestions and shared what they are doing to help close the gap. "The deficit is both professional and entry level [jobs]. [Offer] incentives to community college for technical workforce development," was one suggestions. "The extra unemployment has to end before people will take a job," said one. "We get told everyday as long as they are giving us money, I don't need to work," they added.
"Dudley is willing to hear McDowell County challenges surrounding getting businesses the workforce that they so desperately need." Kim Effler
Another comment suggested 'meaningful immigration reform and creating a legal path for undocumented workers that are already here and ready to work. Small business owners were hit hard as many simply cannot compete with the 'large companies giving signing bonuses and outrageous hourly amounts'. The idea that all businesses, from industry, corporate-owned and operated to independent operators, can simply pay more and offer better benefits ignores the distinctly different business models of each. The designed capacity of a national corporation located in McDowell is vastly different than that of a mom-and-pop. Dudley agrees that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution and said talking with different types of businesses across the state that are all experiencing the same issue needs a more nuanced response.
Effler says that it's important to also stay on top of issues that will have an impact on our businesses. "The Chamber is the voice of business in McDowell County and our partnership with Representative Greene only augments our mission to serve and connect our members," she said. "I am grateful for the ability to pick up the phone and openly discuss local issues with Dudley. Collaboration begins with healthy discussion and a desire to make a difference."
The survey will continue to be available on the front page of our website so that we can glean more information to inform our advocacy around this issue. We encourage all McDowell businesses whether you are a member or not, to complete the simple 6-question survey. Help us build a strong voice for your advocacy with information that makes an impact for our community.