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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 12:29 am | Fair 47º


South Coast Business Forum Hears from WIB on Latest Job Trends

Data show hiring is increasing in the area of business support services

South Coast Business Forum members met last Thursday with officials from the county Workforce Investment Board to hear the latest results of a survey of several hundred local employers who provided the latest data on hiring trends in the private sector.

Each month, the forum brings together business leaders, government officials and chamber executives from the South Coast to hear presentations on how to meet the challenges of the current economy.

This month, Workforce Investment Board officials discussed the most current data on what are known as the county’s primary industry clusters which support business enterprise.

Michael Holliday, chairman of the forum, introduced WIB Executive Director Ray McDonald and said, “Much of the recent WIB report documents our vision for economic vitality in the South Coast region.”

“The focus of the WIB report was put on the private sector, not government,” McDonald said.

While governmental and educational institutions in the county traditionally have supplied a great number of the jobs in the region, the WIB partnered with BW Research Partnership Inc. to survey 317 private employers to obtain its data.

Even though the county’s agricultural sector, which includes industries such as tourism and winemaking, is the largest private employer with some 36,000 jobs, hiring is increasing in the area of business support services.

“Business support services is seen as a bell weather of what’s going to happen,” McDonald told about 25 forum representatives, including Zoe Taylor, newly appointed interim president of the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce.

McDonald said the WIB’s mission is to work with businesses to identify employment trends and gear its worker training and youth programs to meet the needs of employers. In the long run, he said, the goal is to help employers provide better-paying jobs.

“Basically, when someone loses their job in Santa Barbara, they leave town,” said Karen Dwyer, WIB member and local Express Employment Professionals staffing company owner. “Employers are saying it’s hard to find qualified job applicants.”

For almost two years, the forum has been meeting with city and county leaders to build support for the forum’s efforts to develop a regional economic development strategy for the Santa Barbara area.

The forum includes representatives from the Santa Barbara Region Chamber of Commerce, the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Santa Barbara Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, the Santa Barbara Technology & Industry Association, the Santa Barbara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Greater Santa Barbara Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau & Film Commission and SCORE, a local chapter of volunteer business counselors.

— Michael Holliday is chairman of the South Coast Business Forum.

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