by Kristen Williams
Mesquite Regional Business is a private nonprofit incorporated, 501(c)(6), organization and the official economic development agency of the Mesquite region. When they saw the need for a workforce development arm, Mesquite Works was created in 2015. While MRB is funded largely by the City of Mesquite and has salaried employees at varying levels, Mesquite Works is an entirely volunteer staffed 501(c)(3) organization with a mission of providing training opportunities to individuals and businesses to assist job seekers in finding meaningful employment and businesses to hire a qualified workforce.
With MRB trying to attract more businesses to the area, they quickly realized the existing workforce wasn’t going to accommodate potential incoming organizations.
A natural collaboration with Mesquite Works emerged. Burton Weast, chairman of Mesquite Works and MRB board member, saw the need to ramp up their training efforts to include more specialized programs. Originally, the 19-person board of Mesquite Works raised around $10,000, which got them up and running to provide training programs and job fairs for job seekers, and covered rent on the office space they rented in January, which, along with the accompanying utility bills, is their only expense. All their office furniture, equipment and supplies have been donated by local individuals and businesses. But they were running out of money.
That’s when the Mesquite Chamber of Commerce stepped in. The chamber couldn’t exist without members, so it naturally wants to encourage the industry recruitment efforts of MRB. And MRB needs Mesquite Works to help develop a workforce to make that happen. So the chamber saw the need to unburden the volunteers of Mesquite Works from fundraising to focus on that effort.
The chamber donated $7,500 to Mesquite Works, which will cover their expenses for a year while they focus on the actual work. With many board member crossovers between the three entities and the chamber’s mission to “encourage and benefit the growth of business in the Mesquite area” so obviously meshing with the missions of MRB and MW, it was another natural collaboration, providing the third prong in this trilogy of local business advocates.
Rachel Dahl, president and CEO of Mesquite Regional Business, is excited about the collaboration because it allows MRB to adapt and be responsive to the site selectors of businesses looking for a home.
“It’s a beautiful nexus,” she says with a smile. Brenda Snell, chamber president, and Weast both agreed with Dahl in a recent interview with reporters. Dahl and Weast pointed to their current work with the REV Group, a company set to break ground in Mesquite next month on its new facility, as an example of what can be done with such collaboration.
REV needed a certain kind of skilled workforce for its new facility, so MRB and Mesquite Works reached out to the College of Southern Nevada and were able to get a customized training program through the college here in Mesquite to train people for those specific business needs.
Other existing businesses – chamber members, of course – heard of the program and realized how they could benefit from the same and similar future programs for their own workforce needs. All the while, high school students, graduates and young adults, may start to realize they can stay local and get a well-paying job right where they grew up and the types of jobs aren’t as limited as they may have thought.
For more information:
Mesquite Chamber of Commerce: www.mesquitenvchamber.com
Mesquite Works: mesquiteworksnv.org