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A regional public media collaboration serving the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Rural Areas Are Trying To Draw In More Workers

A Phoenix Haus home under construction. Phoenix Haus is a rural company that benefits from Jump Start Colorado.
Phoenix Haus
A Phoenix Haus home under construction. Phoenix Haus is a rural company that benefits from Jump Start Colorado.

Today’s jobs report that puts unemployment at a low of 3.9%  is not necessarily good news for companies competing for potential workers, especially in rural areas, where it’s already challenging to attract labor. Businesses and governments are coming up with creative solutions.

Carolyn Lee is with the Manufacturing Institute, the nonprofit arm of the National Association of Manufacturers. She said some rural companies are offering higher wages and benefits and even transportation and better on-site food services to recruit and keep employees.

“Because without the workers, they cannot compete,” she said.

Lee said government programs can help too.  For example, Jump Start Colorado helps rural companies train their workforce as well as exempting them from state taxes.

That helps Bill McDonald, who runs . The business designs and builds energy efficient homes in Grand Junction, Colorado. The equipment McDonald uses to manufacture homes is costly “and we have the ability to have a reduction in our overall taxes,” he said.

The Manufacturing Institute’s Carolyn Lee added housing for potential workers in rural areas is also a challenge and public private partnerships are needed to help solve this issue.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2020 KRCC. To see more, visit .

Ali Budner is KRCC's reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a journalism collaborative that unites six stations across the Mountain West, including stations in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana to better serve the people of the region. The project focuses its reporting on topic areas including issues of land and water, growth, politics, and Western culture and heritage.
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