Over the past two sessions, Good Jobs Here participants have learned a variety of information. In session one, participants heard from Dr. Jim Johnson, University of North Carolina, on how demographics across the nation have changed and affect how the workforce looks and functions. Dr. Johnson pointed out that in the South, the population has changed 54.6%, with all of the PDC 16 localities seeing and increase in population growth from 2010-2018.
Janel Donahue, Rappahannock United Way, introduced participants to the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population in the region. Ms. Donahue explained that 115,884 households in the greater Fredericksburg region struggle to afford the basics. Ms. Donahue explained how when employees cannot afford the basics, it affects how they function at work and the need for a living wage to help secure a thriving workforce.
In session two, Dr. Lance Gentry, University of Mary Washington, showed participants how the workforce has grown with the majority of the region’s workforce out commuting for employment. Dr. Gentry also informed participants that the majority of people who travel in the region for employment do so by car and drive alone, impacting our region’s infrastructure.
Dr. Gentry found:
- 42.2% of the area’s workforce commutes to work outside the region, up from 37% in 2013,
- 24.8% of our commuters spend at least two hours a day driving to and from work,
- Our commuters are more likely to have higher levels of education and military experience than non-commuters,
- Our commuters have higher average incomes than non-commuters at every level of education.
In the final session, Good Jobs Here participants saw the outcome of their efforts, a shared community vision of
Through regional collaboration, we will prepare and care for a diversified, skilled workforce that meets 21st-century employer needs and attracts new businesses and industries to the George Washington community.
The previous sessions led to the creation of 11 proposed goals:
- Create a strong and unique regional community identity.
- Restructure high school education programs to provide more training for jobs.
- Promote vocational and technical trade opportunities.
- Create workforce partnerships between employers and non-profit agencies.
- Improve the transportation network to reduce congestion and increase accessibility.
- Embrace and promote diversity and inclusivity.
- Create innovative solutions to meet ALICE needs.
- Create partnerships to more effectively address affordable housing.
- Launch a childcare initiative by local businesses to help subsidize employee costs.
- Provide housing education for both problem solvers and those affected by job and housing challenges.
- Revise regulations to lower barriers to major employers, small businesses, and a healthy housing stock.
All economic development plans for the five localities were analyzed and compared to the 11 proposed goals to determine where localities were in moving towards these goals. From the findings, the localities are already moving towards accomplishing these goals, but work still needs to be done.
Linda Millsaps, Director of the George Washington Regional Commission (PDC 16), stated she would be taking the findings of these sessions for a roadshow around the region in the spring to continue to receive community input on the lessons learned.
Written By: Jennifer Morgan