"Now Hiring" signs, like the one above posted outside of Orchard Tree, have been popping up all over Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
"Now Hiring" signs, like the one above posted outside of Orchard Tree, have been popping up all over Van Wert. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – “Now Hiring” signs seem to be popping up all over Van Wert. Every business from Rural King to Wendy’s to Eaton, and many business in between, have posted help wanted signs. While there are many businesses hiring, the positions are not open due to citizens being unwilling to work.

Actually, Van Wert’s unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, which is under the national unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. Stacy Adam, director of the Van Wert Area Economic Development Corporation said that available job positions are not due to people not working, but instead due to the fact that businesses are growing.

“There are certainly more jobs available, without a doubt,” said Adam. “People are working.”

“The business environment, in general, is more positive,” Adam continued. “There has been a lot more activity and interest on leads coming through the state for potential folks. The business outlook is overall positive.”

The growth has resulted in job expansion, and while more jobs are being created, one possibility for entry level job availability is that as manufacturing careers become available, people are taking the next step toward those positions and leaving entry level jobs such as fast food. This creates a natural cycle for the next group to fill entry level positions.

An aging work force is also contributing to job openings. As baby boomers retire, often many at a time, jobs are becoming available.

While employers may need to find ways to attract workers from outside of the area to work in Van Wert, there is plenty of room to attract those who already live here into the local economy.

The most recent information available shows that 14,361 people live in Van Wert County and work somewhere, while 5,549 people both live in Van Wert and work in Van Wert.

“There are thousands of people–more people are living here and working somewhere else,” said Adam. “We have a pool of potential candidates; how do we attract more of those folks here? Part of it starts with making sure we share what great opportunities we have in the community.”

One way Van Wert has begun to do that is through Van Wert Works.

“Any business in Van Wert County, or any business owned by a Van Wert County resident, can post open jobs for free,” said Adam. “They simply register their company and they can post their job for free.”

Nearly 330 high school students have filled out a profile on Van Wert Works to help match them with employer gaps and their own interests. This will help students find potential jobs and employers find potential workers.

Residents can also post their resumes and use the service for free at vanwertworks.com.

Because there is so much growth in the workforce, Adam explained that it’s important for businesses to find ways attract workers so that they can move into vacant jobs.

Flexibility, assistance with skills training, and competitive pay are just a few ways businesses can attract employees.

“In some cases, if you wanted to be a marine biologist, you may not be able to do what you’re trained to do here,” said Adam. “But if it is a job that is offered here, then I think businesses have got to look at pay, hours, flexibility, and ask all of those questions to find out what’s prompting them to go somewhere else.”