State celebrates Buchanan County earning Certified Work Ready Community status

August 4, 2016

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Gov. Jay Nixon today was at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica (BIVI), a worldwide business leader in animal health, to congratulate leaders in Buchanan County for being designated a Certified Work Ready Community. The Governor said Buchanan County’s successful efforts to strengthen its workforce training program and certify its workers will help attract and support growing companies by connecting them with a pipeline of talent.

“Missouri is located in the heart of the country where agriculture and bioscience come together to develop the latest breakthroughs in animal health. And thanks to programs like the CWRC, this industry is able to connect with talented and highly skilled workers right here in Buchanan County,” Gov. Nixon said. “Buchanan County is now one of many communities throughout the state that can promote its local workforce and help spur next-generation job creation throughout the state.”

In 2012, Missouri was selected as one of the first four states to participate in the Certified Work Ready Communities initiative by American College Testing (ACT). The initiative aligns workforce training programs with the economic development needs of communities; matches appropriate applicants to jobs based on skill level; and strengthens businesses by strengthening the workforce.

By participating in the Certified Work Ready Communities initiative, Buchanan County is:

Helping workers understand what skills are required by employers, and how to prepare themselves for success;
Helping businesses effectively communicate their workforce needs to area education and workforce training programs;
Providing educators with the tools needed to close the skills gap by establishing career pathways for students with stackable industry-recognized credentials; and
Equipping economic development organizations with an on-demand reporting tool to promote the quality of their workforce.

Jasper County, Missouri was named the first Certified Work Ready Community in the nation, and Missouri has 78 counties that are actively participating in the Certified Work Ready Community initiative and 34 fully certified counties. Through this initiative, ACT has also awarded more than 77,000 National Career Readiness Certificates to workers in Missouri, including more than 6,445 certificates to Missouri veterans. National Career Readiness Certificates are accepted by more than 10,000 employers nationwide to verify individuals’ work skills.

Today’s event took place at BIVI, a worldwide leader in biological research, development and manufacturing for the animal health business. With more than 3,000 individuals employed globally, the company’s national headquarters is located in St. Joseph, along with its production, distribution and administrative operations for animal vaccines. BIVI is a supporter of the CWRC program, and uses it to recruit candidates for available production and packaging/labeling positions as well as for promotional opportunities.

“Qualified employees with a skill set in scientific and highly technical fields is paramount to the success of manufacturing and supplying industry-leading vaccines for the animal health industry,” says Dr. Bernd Eichenmueller, vice president of operations for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. “We applaud Buchanan County for its recognition in the CWRC program.”

Various agencies and dozens of businesses throughout the county joined together to make this designation possible for Buchanan County, including the Community Alliance of St. Joseph, the Missouri Job Center, Heartland Foundation, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, the St. Joseph School District, Hillyard Technical Center, Mid-Buchanan School District, Metropolitan Community College, Missouri Western State University and the Northwest Workforce Development Board. Heartland Foundation, leader of the (e2) education emPowers® initiative in northwest Missouri, served as the supporting organization on the steering committee of the effort and continues to serve as an advocate of the CWRC effort throughout the region.

“It is encouraging to see business and education moving forward together to promote a positive workforce for St. Joseph and Buchanan County. Our residents can take pride in the fact that we value education, training and skill development for local jobs both now and in the future,” said Steve Johnston, director of the Community Alliance of Saint Joseph. “This is truly a community initiative. It impacts our quality of life and economic growth. In a competitive global market, a skilled, motivated and productive workforce is vital to growing and expanding our community."

“The hope is that the area continues to grow in attracting economic development, retain more of our emerging workforce by helping our youth see greater opportunity for establishing their lives here, and provide employers with the workforce they need to grow their businesses and organizations,” said Heartland Foundation President Judith Sabbert.

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and analyzed by the Kauffman Foundation show that there were 1,293 more businesses created in Missouri in 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available) than in 2012, an increase of more than 16 percent. Over the same time period, 39 states saw a decrease in new business creation. Of the states that did see an increase in the number of new businesses, Missouri outperformed them dramatically – experiencing a bigger growth in new business creation than all ten of those states combined.

Since 2010, Missouri employers have created more than 100,000 jobs, cutting the unemployment rate in half (4.5 percent in June 2016) and helping to keep it below the national average for the past two years.