‘Prospering Business’ conference to focus on workforce

By Reader Staff

In a time when many employers are facing a drought of qualified workers, how can local communities cultivate a well-educated — and well-trained — work force?

That’s one question the third annual “What’s Happening Up North Prospering Business Workshop” will examine during a day-long conference on Thursday, Nov. 2, at the Sandpoint Technical Center, 130 McGhee Road. The conference runs from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes lunch. It is free but space is limited; registration is open now online at www.whatshappeningupnorth.org.

As in previous years, the workshop will feature a number of notable speakers drawn from business and government, plus panel discussions and open forums to engage attendees.

The annual economic summit is staged by the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation in conjunction with Headwaters Economics, Lake Pend Oreille School District, Panhandle Alliance for Education and Idaho Department of Labor.

This year’s conference is subtitled “Building a Smart Workforce.” Paul Kusche, BCEDC executive director, said the focus this year on workforce training grew out of a lively discussion about education at last year’s conference. As a result, he said, “we decided this year to focus on what’s happening around our schools and in work force training needs.”

Bringing their perspective on the subject will be featured speakers from two of the area’s star companies, Percussionaire CEO Mark Baillie and Diedrich Roasters President Michael Paquin.

Labor Economist Sam Wolkenhaurer from the Idaho Department of Labor is back again by popular demand to give a talk on the state of the economy in North Idaho. Kusche will also present the results of a recently completed survey of manufacturers in the county and their workforce training needs.

Keynote speaker at lunch will be state Sen. Shawn Keough, while the featured speaker to close the conference will be Tommy Ahlquist, MD; he is CEO of the Gardner Company and candidate for Idaho governor.

Other speakers will include all three school superintendents from Bonner and Boundary counties, Shawn Woodward of the  Lake Pend Oreille School District; Paul Anselmo of the West Bonner County School District; and Gary Plfueger of Boundary County School District.

Other presenters include Karl Dye of P-TECH; Alex Gray, Sandpoint CTE Coordinator; Rebecca Palmer, Independent Track Coordinator at Clark Fork High School; Ricia Lasso of Idaho Department of Labor; and Megan Lawson of Headwaters Economics.

To register, go to www.whatshappeningupnorth.org.

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