Job openings are becoming abundant in the James River Valley. That's according to organizers at the Workforce Development Summit in Mitchell.
There were various speakers and presentations Tuesday, but the big picture that came out of the meetings is that jobs are growing in the James River Valley, even if the population itself is not. And that means a surplus of opportunities for the unemployed.
"South Dakota has certain areas where certain skills are in high demand," South Dakota Chamber of Commerce president David Owen said.
That area appears to be the James River Valley. From Aberdeen to Yankton, business leaders say jobs in health care and technology are popping up.
"The communities up and down this particular area have done a good job in diversifying their economies," Owen said. "They have a stronger manufacturing base than most people know."
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard hopes that strong base can help lower the state's unemployment rate.
"We need to try and match up the unemployed folks," Daugaard said. "We've got about 4,000 people on unemployment right now and we've got about 10,000 job openings. They don't quite match up."
Part of the problem is making sure people have the right skill-set for the jobs available, one of the major talking points at Tuesday's summit.
"As they make career path decisions, they can have a wider array that will lead them to a successful job," Daugaard said.
Owen says making people aware of the jobs in the James River Valley will eventually help South Dakota's overall economic recovery.
"We are starting to experience some recovery, but with certain skills like welders and CAT operators," Owen said.
If anything, leaders hope the summit highlights jobs are out there and that the trend toward a rebounding economy continues to build.
"Now that the tide has begun to turn, we're starting to see job additions almost every month for a year now," Daugaard said.
Daugaard admitted the discrepancy between the number of jobs available and the number of unemployed may also be due to people not wanting certain careers. But he says with trade schools and technical colleges having shorter programs than a standard four-year college, it might make more financial sense to look at those options.