Focus Group Meetings
Workforce concerns -- availability of workers, training them, retaining them -- topped the list of concerns for businesses in 2023. With the increasing number of people retiring and an increasing aging population, rural communities struggle to find enough workers. The region has a substantially larger percentage of the working population (ages 16-64) who are not working, compared to national averages. This might be due to early retirements, long-term disabilities (which are also higher than national averages), or other unknown factors. Companies need to "up the ante" to attract and retain staff, which is going to take creativity and ingenuity that the region can catalyze, promote, and share. Improving quality of life is critical to maintaining/increasing population and is covered in the following section on Vibrant Communities.
Population = 251,907
Population Growth Since 2010 = -5.0%
Population Change 2010 = -13,237
Growth in Working Age Population
StatsAmerica, using U.S. Census Bureau (ACS 5-year estimates) data