Letter to the editor: Perry poised for sustained growth

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To the editor:

It has been a bit over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. Sadly, over 500,000 of our fellow Americans have died due to this virus. The arrival of the COVID vaccines has started to turn the tide, and just this week the U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs, dropping the unemployment rate to 6.2%.

Locally, the manufacturing sector did not slow down significantly even during the pandemic. Perry-area manufacturers have announced or completed multi-million dollar expansions over the last year and are seeking a dependable and skilled workforce for jobs that pay anywhere between $17.50 and $20 an hour to start. At the recent Perry Economic Development fair, more than 30 job seekers met with four local manufacturers and two health care providers to learn about the various career opportunities in Perry.

DMACC’s Workforce Training Academy (WTA) is working to help provide free or low-cost short-term training that will prepare individuals to enter the manufacturing and health fields in a short amount of time. While many of the production positions might not require experience, employers are looking for team members who are safe, familiar with manufacturing and how to work efficiently.

The WTA manufacturing production certificate can be earned in less than two months during the evenings and will help students learn general industry safety, forklift certification, shop practices and non-technical skills needed to be successful in a team environment. The courses start March 15 at the DMACC VanKirk Career academy and end by April 30.

Individuals interested in entering the medical field as a CNA will be able to take advantage of courses starting May 25 and may qualify for tuition reimbursement or no-cost tuition through the WTA.

One more sector that is experiencing growth in Perry is housing. The local housing market did not slow down during the winter months and seems to be growing hotter with the spring weather. Look around and it seems that houses are selling faster than they have for many years, and housing development has started to pop up on various parts of town.

Some of those new homeowners will find jobs at the local manufacturers, earning between $35,000 and $42,000 a year. Unfortunately, some workers with jobs paying $10 an hour or less sometimes find the jump to manufacturing or health fields intimidating. Others have to drive 40 minutes or more to earn a slightly higher wage. The WTA and growing housing sector will help those looking to work and live in Perry get the skills needed to succeed.

The coronavirus pandemic hit local economies very hard across the country, but many towns like Perry came together to support local businesses and help keep them going. The Perry Chamber of Commerce, Perry Economic Development and the city of Perry teamed up on various initiatives to support local businesses. We now ask the Perry people to join the team by doing the following:

  1. Shop local. Our small-town businesses are the best supporters of many of our communities events. Let’s give back to them as much as they give to us.
  2. Consider local employers when looking at career changes. The jobs are plentiful in town, and the wages and benefits make an economy grow.
  3. Invest in yourself. People are the drivers of economic development, and the training and education you give yourself will pay back nicely. Reach out to Connie Hoffman if you are interested in the Workforce Training Academy at 712-792-8304 or choffman@dmacc.edu.

PEDI is a volunteer board made up of 15 individuals who are passionate about supporting sustainable growth and development for the city of Perry.

(Signed)
Tom Burkgren, PEDI Board President
Matt McDevitt, PEDI Board Vice President
Monica Scheib, PEDI Board Treasurer
Eddie Diaz, PEDI Board Secretary

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