Chautauqua 2016: A Promise of Good Work



Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

“Some fantastic things are coming up for our workforce,” said Lisa Melquist, recruitment coordinator for Jamestown’s Resource Center, one of Chautauqua County’s largest businesses, employing more than 1000 local workers. Melquist echoed many of the county’s most important employers and political leaders in her optimism about job prospects for 2016.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the nation’s workforce grew by a healthy 10 percent over the last decade – by nearly 16 million jobs – and the projection is for continued growth at that pace. In some sectors, for instance health care, engineering, entertainment and hospitality, the pace is projected to be even greater.
Chautauqua County appears to be well positioned to thrive in the upcoming job market for 2016, according to Chautauqua County Executive, Vince Horrigan.

New Growth Slated
“I’ve seen some of the brightest opportunities in my whole career, both as Chautauqua County Executive and as a legislator,” Horrigan said, wrapping up business for 2015 and looking forward to 2016.
“We’re very close to some really great development opportunities in Chautauqua County, on many fronts,” Horrigan added, “and that means jobs.” His optimism closely matched the Bureau of Labor forecast, specifically noting hospitality, healthcare, entertainment and local manufacturing. “The $90 million Cummins Engine presence here, for instance, proves that major industries find this an attractive environment for hiring.”
Horrigan also cited a number of hotel development, food manufacturing and dairy projects now under way with many nearing completion, as well as the popular PGA Tour’s Tour at Peek’n Peak Resort sponsored for the next four years by LECOM Challenge.
Chautauqua County’s “Main Street”, Route 60, is a top priority, too.” Horrigan added. “We’re working on widening it, enhancing safety for everybody and helping to speed north-south commerce along the entire route. That’s good for business.”

Training Saves & Creates Jobs
Many jobs require training to enter but Chautauqua County is rich in employers who will train employees for their next step up to those jobs while they work.
“We’re changing the employment landscape in 2016,” said Cindy Patton, RN, BA, administrative director at Westfield Hospital. “That’s because the healthcare landscape is changing. We now cross train employees so they can work in many areas. They become an invaluable resource, a more stable workforce and generally much more employable and promotable when systems change.”

Growing Our Own
Another strategy for growing Chautauqua County’s work force in 2016 will take advantage of the 10s of millions of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age and leaving millions of good jobs vacant. Many of those new openings require training, though.
Many local employers now understand the value of growing from within by training employees who are already on the job. “We have a lot of career ladder success stories at The Resource Center,” Lisa Melquist said. “We’ve trained entry level workers who have moved all the way up to management through training and support of their further education with tuition reimbursement.”
“The resource Center is growing by leaps and bounds. We fill hundreds of job openings every year with many more projected for 2016,” Melquist said. “We believe jobs don’t have to be a dead end. Come and grow with us.”

Attracting Talent
“We have a Chautauqua Demand List of more than 90 job titles,” said Carol Wynham, site coordinator at Chautauqua Works in Jamestown. The list of job titles entices applicants with mean annual salaries ranging from $23,000 all the way up to nearly $175,000, from security guards to physicians. Healthcare and manufacturing in Chautauqua County are the most heavily represented on the Chautauqua Demand List, once again matching the Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for 2016.
“Just look at this notebook,” Wynham said, opening a lose leaf binder jammed with at least an inch of pages, each listing a different job opening submitted by a Chautauqua County employer. “Our employers really want to hire in 2016 and they keep sending us requests,” Wynham said. “It’s a great market out there for anyone who needs a job in ’16. Our Career Specialists know the ropes. They can help people find the right one.”

Bringing Them Home
According to a staff writer for the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation (JRC), in a recently published document, “Boosting Jamestown’s ‘Brain Gain’,” an important target for boosting employment in Chautauqua County is attracting the county’s youth to come back home after completing college or military service. The same strategies are being applied to attract young professionals from across the country, especially 25- to 39- year-olds, with college degrees.
According to JRC, “…more and more potential residents are finding that the region’s low rents, reasonable cost of living, high quality of life, and access to major urban centers makes Jamestown a competitive place to operate a small business in the digital age–a good home base to work with clients from around the globe while benefiting from low overhead costs.”
JRC continues to work with Jamestown’s Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission on a strategy to implement this concept.

Chautauqua Works career specialist, Ryan Lundgren (standing), reviews employment counseling and job search software with (L to R) Carol Wynham, site coordinator and Melissa Peck, career spacialist at Chautauqua Works offices in 3rd Street in Jamestown.
Chautauqua Works career specialist, Ryan Lundgren (standing), reviews employment counseling and job search software with (L to R) Carol Wynham, site coordinator and Melissa Peck, career spacialist at Chautauqua Works offices in 3rd Street in Jamestown.

Civil Service Standards
The Chautauqua County Civil Service Examination system is open to local residents who would like to work in any Chautauqua County Government department or agency, as well as its towns, villages, school districts, special districts, City of Dunkirk, City of Jamestown, and BOCES Second Supervisory District, Erie-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus counties.
It is the policy of the Chautauqua County Department of Human Resources, which oversees the Civil Service Exam System, to direct the hiring processes in a way that guarantees people are employed for public service by the fair and tested “merit and fitness standards” that are mandated by the Civil Service Law.

A Mayor’s Invitation
“I hear from employers in all sectors of the local economy that they are searching for people – the right people. Job opportunities for 2016 look bright,” said Jamestown’s Mayor Sam Teresi. “And we’re on the right path to fill those needs.” According to Teresi, jobs are available in just about all sectors of the local employment market.
“Our economy in comparison to many cities the state of New York is not as good,” Teresi admitted, “but I can say it is better than most. We have no shortage of good jobs we can match with good workers. We have an outstanding workforce.”
For anyone in Chautauqua County looking for work in 2016, Mayor Teresi’s invitation is simply to come and look. The prospects are good.

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.