By News-Register staff • 

‘Listening forums’ gather information from employers

McMinnville Economic Development Partnership is continuing its series of “listening forums” this month to gather information from local businesses and industries.
MEDP said it will use data from the forums to shape workforce development programs.

The series got underway in December. Craig Brockett, MEDP’s workforce development project contractor, led discussions about challenges of finding and retaining skilled employees, along with the impact of the pandemic years on the local workforce.

At one session, for instance, several representatives of local manufacturers said the past few years have left them with some lasting effects, such as higher labor costs.

During the pandemic and stimulus payments, they had to raise wages to find enough workers. They cannot go back to earlier wage levels, they said. They often have no choice but to pass on their rising costs to consumers.

Employers also noted the rising cost of housing and lack of affordable options, which can limit their pool of potential employees. “City leaders don’t understand ‘affordable,’” one said, adding that the high cost of city permits and fees contributes to the expense of housing.

They also mentioned difficulty in retaining new employees. A representative of one firm said he saw a 150% turnover rate last year. It’s discouraging to invest in new workers who won’t stay long, several said.

Participants also discussed the McMinnville Workforce Integration Network Initiative, a collaboration between MEDP and the City of McMinnville.

Upcoming sessions will be held at Chemeketa Community College’s Yamhill Valley Campus, 288 N.E. Norton Lane, McMinnville.

They include:

- Hospitality, 9 to 10 a.m. on Jan. 9.

- Information Technology, 5 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 11.

- Health Care, 9 to 10 a.m. on Jan. 16.

Latino/Latina/Latinx Business Forums will be held in partnership with Advanced Economic Solutions. They include sessions for employees, 6 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 10; and for owners and employees, 6 to 7 p.m. Jan. 17.

To register or find more information, contact MEDP at or 503-474-6814. For more information regarding Latino forums, call or text Marin Arreola at 503- 999-5022 or send email to


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