Prowers Economic Prosperity board members, at the suggestion of new member, Craig Loveless, will initiate a more aggressive search mode to find a new executive director for the economic development group. A sub-committee has been formulating a job description for the new executive director since this past summer. PEP is looking for a person who has some past experience with rural communities. The advertisement has been placed in some regional publications as well as online sites with international reach which are specific to that type of employment. The individual hired will play the key role in helping foster new business growth as well as bring new jobs and investment to Prowers County. Rick Robbins, PEP President, said one application for the position has been received.
Loveless, the Chief Executive Officer for Prowers Medical Center, recommended during the December 6th meeting, the board strongly consider hiring a search firm which focuses on a narrowed band of qualified candidates. In his position as hospital director, Loveless is fully acquainted with this particular hiring practice. “I think for what it will cost us to run printed advertisements, especially over a period of several weeks or more, we could spend that amount to hire a search firm,” he suggested. Board members had discussed the pricing of newspaper ads and fees associated with some online advertising just prior to his suggestion. Those ads are now scheduled to be run until the position has been filled and the current advertising package, while not specifically limited to a dollar amount, could run into several thousands of dollars before the PEP executive director has been hired. In most cases, the search firm is paid a retainer fee and final payment is made once the position has been filled.
Loveless said search firms have become the standard for recruiting for the position the board is seeking, as opposed to newspaper ads, “No one hunts for a job that way anymore. They’re on ‘Job Board’ or ‘Monster’ or working through recruiters.” He said he’s always used a recruiter for a job search and explained the search process can be sped up because each party, the recruited and the recruiter, is using similar sources for contact.
The remainder of the meeting dealt with maintaining the Opportunities listing for the county as recommended by PUMA, the advisory group hired by PCDI for marketing research. According to Robbins, the board needs to continue momentum for economic development in the absence of a director. “What do we do right now if we get a call asking about business development for the county? How do we hand that off? What are Carla’s duties as far as what she can do so we don’t let that inquiry slip away?” he asked, referencing how Carla Scranton, the PEP business manager, can deal with or direct the inquiry. Robbins said there should be designated board members who can use their professional experience to handle an initial contact. “This is information the executive director will need to have in any case,” he explained. County Commissioner, Wendy Buxton-Andrade, suggested that follow up calls be made in order to touch base with past inquiries about job and business development in Prowers County.
Scranton said she should have contact persons available to deal with future inquiries. “I just can’t tell them, ‘We’ll, I’ll call and get back to you,’ I need to be able to give them an answer immediately,” she stated. The board suggested several contingencies so as to gain as much information as possible, as well as provide direct answers to the party’s questions. Member Doug Thrall asked in general how such calls, if made to the City of Lamar or Chamber of Commerce, would be handled. “Do these people have any information on how they can direct those calls to PEP?” he wanted to know. Robbins said he and several other members will form a committee to set up a chain of command on who would handle calls of that nature. Robbins summed up one of the organizational stumbling blocks inherent in a broad-based campaign to promote county-wide economic development, “these are the things we talked about, even when we did the PEP study. Prowers County has all the dots; we have all the dots to be successful, it’s just that nobody’s connected all of them. So, I see us having one main job, in addition to getting an executive director, we really don’t have anything that’s missing.”
By Russ Baldwin
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