Workforce Wednesdays: Employer Solutions Panel

For insights on the area workforce shortage and solutions for Minnesota employers, take a look at the recent Workforce Wednesday session hosted by CareerForce and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) on September 1, 2021. 

Facilitated by DEED’s Northeast Minnesota Workforce Strategy Consultant Shawn Herhusky, this session explored regional workforce shortages through the lens of resident recruitment and welcoming community initiatives. 

This session’s panel included: 

  • Amy Baldwin, Community Development Director, Otter Tail County
  • Elissa Hansen, President & CEO, Northspan
  • Len Bakken, Director of Human Resources, Hylife

In the session, Elissa shared information about talent attraction efforts with northeast Minnesota employers who were struggling to find talent just prior to the pandemic. These include Northspan’s NORTHFORCE talent attraction program and, an online resource guide for those looking to live and work within the 10-county Arrowhead region of northeast Minnesota:

“When we can connect directly with that candidate, so many times, we’re able to get them into a job very quickly. So, we’re not Kelly Services or a placement service, but because we’re having those conversations, it’s easy to get a prospective candidate into a role that fits them,” said Elissa, adding: “We’re seeing a lot of transition as people are coming out of COVID and looking to get reemployed.” 

The session also shared tips for hiring success for local employers. The top tip from Elissa based on NORTHFORCE data: “Post the wage. It seems silly, but so many don’t. Those who do, even if they feel like they’re not as competitive as they’d like to be, or they’re trying to get more competitive, those that post a wage have like a 70 to 75% higher rate of success getting candidates that want that job.”

With NORTHFORCE, employers can boost visibility of job posts on social media to audiences of active job seekers looking to live and work in northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. Employers can also turn to NORTHFORCE for information on average wages and more data to help determine what competitive wages look like in a given Northland industry. Learn more at

Elissa also highlighted Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program: “Our focus as we just begin and launch is trying to connect all the people in our area doing [welcoming] work that don’t necessarily think of it that way. Like our employers who are traveling with cohorts to Puerto Rico to bring whole families back to the North Shore to be employed.” 

Watch the whole Sept. 1st Workforce Wednesdays session for more details: Workforce Wednesday Solutions for MN Employers

Workforce Wednesdays takes place the first Wednesday of every month from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by a Q&A session. Tune in for info geared toward helping businesses collaborate, leverage expertise, develop innovative workforce solutions, and connect to resources throughout the state. Learn more here: Workforce Wednesdays