Working to help businesses find workers |

Working to help businesses find workers

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to The Union

Power and influence mix together to make impactful change to our region in the form of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council (ERC). The ERC is comprised of a Board of Directors that represents a wide variety of both the public and private sectors. Agents from both city and county government join representatives from many of the industries that make up the local business community, including health care, manufacturing, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, construction and education.

Executive Dean of Sierra College Nevada County Campus Stephanie Ortiz has been involved with the ERC since 2009 and is currently the Chair-elect. Her belief in the important role the ERC plays within the community, includes a strong relationship between the educational institution and the needs of the local work force.

Ortiz said,” I started going to the meetings and I could see that it was an important place to share and disseminate information that helped move us toward economic stability and prosperity for Nevada County. I have always been interested in economic development issues and particularly the aspect of workforce development within the overall umbrella of economic development.”

She said Sierra College stands behind her in her work with the ERC. She has long highly valued career technical education (better known to some as vocational education) and said she believes in looking at a college education in an expanded way to include taking course work that provides people with a path to learning skillsets that are needed by local employers.

Over its tenure, the ERC has facilitated conversations between local business owners and local educators that has led, in part, to the college offering certifications in areas needed to fill some voids in the local employment market.

Sierra College now offers over two dozen certifications to help fill labor force shortages including those in allied health such as nursing and medical assistants and in business. In fact, a full-time staff member has been hired at the Nevada County Campus to facilitate business curriculum.

In addition, Ortiz continues to request and gather information to help the college meet the needs of the community. “I asked the arm of the community college system that does economic forecasting to write a report about economic opportunity in all of Nevada County in all industry sectors,” said Ortiz. “That is another example of how my work with the ERC has helped me connect Nevada County with the resources of the California Community College system.”

“It’s a council of people who bring their unique perspective on economic issues and economic development, literally to the table to discuss issues, opportunities, and challenges facing Nevada County, particularly Western Nevada County,” Ortiz said of the ERC.

It’s that mechanism of coming together and being able to discuss share and sometimes disagree, that helps the organization provide resources pertinent to the unique needs of the community.

The ERC also works with the eastern part of the county through the Sierra Business Council.

The ERC board meets on the first Thursday of each month and is open to the public. To become involved with the ERC and to learn more about programs available to assist business, including the ERC initiative NC Tech Connection, go to the website NCERC.ORG, call 530-274-8455 or write to

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a freelancer writer in Nevada County. She writes a monthly column on behalf of the ERC.

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