By Robin Fitzpatrick
Partnerships are tightly woven into the fabric of our organization. Community redevelopment efforts with the support of the County of Adams, municipal outreach with the AC Office of Planning and Development, Destination Gettysburg and HACC are but a few of the community efforts gaining momentum through the power of partnership. But today I’d like to highlight a partnership that hits close to home—literally!
Our office, located in the Adams Commerce Center, is shared with PA CareerLink Adams County. For almost 15 years, our two organizations have benefited immensely by working side-by-side. It was under the administration of Governor Tom Ridge, that the state had a vision of a “one stop shop for businesses” and was encouraging economic development corporations (EDCs) and CareerLinks to partner and co-locate wherever possible. The timing was right and we established offices together with shared meeting space.
Although both of our offices are state-related, we work under different departments. Our Adams Economic Alliance office answers to the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) while PA CareerLink Adams County is governed by the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I). Our functions overlap in many ways, including workforce development.
“Events have been an ongoing way that we’ve partnered,” says Alan Dudley, Administrator, PA CareerLink Adams County. “We’ve had a lot of job fairs over the years, we’ve hosted seminars on unemployment compensation, seminars for job seekers such as how to apply for federal jobs or state civil service jobs. One of nice things about working with AEA is they are very quick and willing to use their networking and social networks to promote our co-sponsored events. It shows a joint presence to the community.”
Of the 63 PA CareerLinks, there are others that operate under similar partnerships including the Franklin County CareerLink and EDC.
Everything old is new again! Today, our South Central PA region is being hailed as a “best practice” region for the rest of the Commonwealth to follow, as we all implement a program called ENGAGE! We look forward to a renewed partnership with PA CareerLink.
A partnership between L&I and DCED, ENGAGE! is similar to a business calling program that ED professionals used during several administrations. It included two main components: a direct engagement/face to face meeting with the highest level C position in a company and use of a customer management system (Executive Pulse) software program to create and manage a database. The ED professional would identify key employers with whom to meet, schedule a meeting, meet and tour the facility, follow an interview outline so that everyone doing these visits across the Commonwealth sought the same information, enter data into the system, assign partners (like SBDC or World Trade Center, etc.) goals for helping the company based on the identification of their needs. There was follow-up with the company to make sure the partners reached out to them as asked, and later follow-up to make sure their needs were met.
ENGAGE! is basically this same model except now we are partnering with L&I Business Services Team. They’ve always gone to visit with primary employers in the region, but have focused on HR professionals and workforce data. They will now be trained to ENGAGE the business in the same manner as the EDs do. This partnership will allow us to meet with twice the number of businesses than we were able to do before.
ED folks will hand over the business management to the CareerLink folks if we find that workforce is their primary issue; CareerLink folks will hand business management over to us when they find they have more than workforce issues. We all have access to the database and can see whose been visited and what they said. It’s a much better way of communicating with one another and keeping track of our efforts so there is no duplication of effort nor is anything lost in the abyss.
Our South Central PA region of EDOs have been working together like this for many years, similar to that of the SCPaWorks (Workforce Investment Board) connected to our six regional PA CareerLinks! And we’d like to think the bonds between our organization and PA CareerLink Adams County—as well as the similar bonds established in Franklin County—are part of the equation.
Robin Fitzpatrick, President of Adams Economic Alliance, can be reached at 717-334-0042. The Adams Economic Alliance (AEA), is comprised of three organizations: The Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC), the Adams County Industrial Development Authority (ACIDA) and the Adams County General Authority (ACGA). For more information, see adamsalliance.org, or follow AEA on Twitter (@AdamsAlliance), Facebook (Facebook.com/AdamsAlliance) and LinkedIn (Adams Economic Alliance).