StanTogether pushing hiring surge by mid-summer

Central Valley Business Journal, March 2012

By KEITH MICHAUD/Business Journal Editor

MODESTO – Economic development officials in Stanislaus County are nudging local businesses into doing something they already want to do – hire just one more person.

Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance’s StanTogether campaign has a lofty goal: 1,000 new jobs in Stanislaus County between now and July 31. Each new job means a new paycheck that can go to paying for local services and products, and generating sales taxes and other fees. That fuels a need for even more hiring.

“It’s a snowball effect,” said Craig Lewis, president of Prudential California Reality of the Central Valley and a member of the Alliance board. He said that for every dollar invested in the local economy another $3.50 is generated, growing that snowball even larger.

Consumer confidence is a big part, said Lewis, because once consumers see that people are being hired there will be more spending rather than saving, which will spur on the economy even more.

“Consumer confidence is huge,” said Lewis. “It shows business owners to have a little bit of faith in the future.”

StanTogether is the focused effort to create synergy throughout the Stanislaus County business community, said Lewis, and more.

“The other thing that I liked about it is that it said ‘We’re going to be bold. We’re going to set high goals,’” said Lewis. And communities rally around such optimistic efforts, he said.

Alliance officials have reason to be confident that they will meet the mark and then some. In just the first few weeks of the campaign 47 businesses are participating, 52 people have been hired, and 144 openings are waiting to billed, said Alisha Cruz, Alliance marketing intern working on the project.

“What we’re hoping to get across is that there are some businesses that need just a little push to make that hire,” said Cruz.

Teri Adams-Jones, the Alliance’s communications marketing manager, said businesses receive a variety of incentives for participating in the program and its location may be the basis for one such incentive.

“The businesses address may qualify them for possible hiring tax credits,” said Adams-Jones, referring to the Stanislaus County enterprise zone. “The hiring tax credit is a total value over a five-year period of $37,440 per qualified employee.”

Cruz said participating businesses also get other incentives – business logos go on the StanTogether website with a link to the business’s website, advertising on the website, recognition on Kat County radio and a community page, a decal to display in their business to show that they are participating in a program to meet the 1,000 jobs goal, and some companies that hire a veteran may be eligible for on-the-job training expenses reimbursement.

There’s even a YouTube presentation to explain the importance of 1,000 jobs and 1,000 paychecks.

“We want businesses to know they’re not alone,” said Adams-Jones. “We know that there are some businesses that have been wanting to hire someone, but just haven’t been willing to.”

Ian Norris of Norris Construction heard about the program on the news and thought it would be the best way to connect with qualified, skilled workers.

“I’m an employer and I know there are lots of people out there looking for work,” said Norris. “The problem is finding the right person.”

Norris has not hired anyone yet, but is optimistic that he will. Business has been picking up recently and, with seven bids on his desk right now, he wanted to hire crews to take on the projects rather than refuse a project simply because he did not have full crews.

“There’s work coming in every day,” Norris said. “I felt this coming on for quite a while. … I’m in this for the long haul and I’m very optimistic.”

Another thing that appealed to Norris about the Alliance’s program is the focus on finding work for return military veterans.

“That would be awesome,” said Norris, who added that being able to hire a veteran would be “very gratifying.”

There’s more information about the program on the StanTogether website – Interested Stanislaus County businesses can contact the campaign by calling the Alliance at 209-567-4985.

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