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REDI Report – April 17, 2016

Future workforce development well underway in Lebanon, Laclede County

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in some of the bad publicity you see and hear from national media. We often receive the most negative stories possible, with the more positive news buried somewhere that even the best scavenger has a hard time of finding it. Well, let me put some good news front and center about the future of Lebanon and Laclede County in this edition of the “REDI Report.”

The past two weeks have been very fulfilling in seeing what the future holds with the youth of our community and county.

Last week, I had the honor of participating in a full day of activities at the Lebanon Technology and Career Center (LTCC) at Lebanon High School. The events were part of LTCC’s annual job fair where students have the chance to give presentations to local employers or community leaders as well as participate in mock job interviews. Despite being classified as “mock” interviews, the students actually have the chance to make an impression on actual employers taking part in the event. And who knows? Some of those conversations may lead to actual job opportunities for the students.

While obviously I didn’t have jobs to offer like a larger business or industry, I did have the chance to learn a little more about the 15 individuals who stopped by the REDI table to present their resumes and discuss their future aspirations. I was so impressed with our youth. Some were not exactly sure what the future will hold, but were continuing to work toward it realizing that there is no true crystal ball to see what for sure will happen. Others have things figured out to the point that arrangements have been made as to what career path they are taking, what college or trade school they may go to, or for those not getting a higher education – what type of job they want to pursue after high school graduation.

Fast forward to just two days ago at the Lebanon Rotary Club meeting and club members received a wonderful presentation from fourth and fifth grade students participating in the Boswell Elementary Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program. These kids literally hit a home run talking about how much fun they are having in the program and some of the things they are learning as part of it. They were so well spoken and appeared to have little, if any nervousness in front of a pretty good sized crowd of professional adults.

Kudos to our educators at all of our local districts and at all levels for doing what they do to help build our future workforce. While I will say we have challenges that we will always need to address when it comes to workforce development, I will always be proud of the labor pool we have in Lebanon and Laclede County. We have some very hard working people here who all help keep our economy moving forward. Without them we would not be as great a place to live and work as we are. And combine that with the educators we have doing their best to mold our young people into productive citizens and really the sky is the limit.

These two events with students at different points in their educational career were just an additional reminder that we can compete with anybody in this global economy. Like a proud coach of his or her team, I am very proud to be one of many who get to represent our community and county in the position I am blessed to hold. I will stop short of being too cheesy by saying that our future is so bright that I have to wear shades at night – but it truly is looking very positive for Lebanon and Laclede County.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 (Brian Thompson is the President/Chief Executive Officer of Lebanon-REDI. He may be reached at his office at 200 E. Commercial Street at 417-533-5627, by mobile phone at 417-288-9737 or by e-mail at brian@lebanonredi.com)