What Oklahoma state and local officials are doing to reach workforce development goals

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Oklahoma has a low unemployment rate. Many think that's a good thing -- but it's also served as a major challenge for economic development.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is working to combat issues with economic development in the Sooner State. He’s focusing on two parts: regional development and local development.

Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce President Charlotte Howe has started analyzing how the city can best meet the governor’s goals.

“There is a great foundation built here, but for economic development, we are going to do business retention and expansion,” Howe explained. “So that means we are going to go out and talk to the industry and find out ‘What do you need? What are your challenges? What kind of employees are you looking for and what kind of training?'”

Howe then says she will begin bringing in state resources.

“Your Oklahoma Workforce Board, Cherokee Nation and some of the tribes have career services plans. We want to get them around the table with our K-12 and say how can we help get our kids prepared to be successful in our pipeline of workers that we need to make Miami grow,” added Howe.

For many in Oklahoma and nationwide, workforce development concerns stem from issues of getting people to do the jobs that are available.

“Here in Miami, finding someone that wants to work out side in the heat, in the cold, and that has somewhat in experience in construction or equipment operations is very hard to find these days,” explained Miami street manager Robert Barger.

Barger adds many people in the younger generations have difficulties securing that job.

“A lot of them apply, but they just aren’t trained enough or educated enough in the field to be hired,” said Barger. “We do hire some that do not have that much traiing and we train them along and it works out pretty good.”

Next month, Governor Stitt will launch Workforce Development Month. It will include organizations coming up with their own plans to help the initiative.

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