Southern Humboldt now has a dedicated Business Service Coordinator for the Humboldt Workforce Coalition (HWC). Redway resident, Leann Greene was hired by HWC as the area’s Business Service Coordinator in June and has been doing outreach to residents and businesses in Southern Humboldt as she implements HWC’s mission: “Bringing together resources that meet employer and employee needs, to advance the prosperity of our communities.”
The HWC offers services ranging from creating resumes to vocational training for job seekers while providing training assistance and hiring incentives to employers, among other services. Greene stated that training new employees can be cost prohibitive to employers, but the HWC is willing to help as they connect job seekers with living wage jobs.
According to Greene, the average living wage, currently, in Humboldt County is just over $21 an hour. The HWC understands that some people may not be earning a living wage and is dedicated to training a local workforce for living wage employment. “When an employer is offering $18 an hour, we take the job because we need to pay our bills; …but we also understand that might not be a long-term job. …We want to get you into some skilled work, and hopefully work you love and enjoy,” she stated.
As the cannabis economy free-falls, many in Southern Humboldt are searching for a job. Greene is hoping that those in need will reach out to her. “I really want to encourage people that are frustrated and leaving the cannabis industry and assure them that there are great jobs in Humboldt County,” she said.
One of Greene’s goals as the Business Service Coordinator is to remove barriers to services, many of which are only available at the county seat of Eureka; a drive that is up to two hours away for some residents. Greene has office hours monthly in Garberville but is doing significant outreach to bring the HWC services to residents in the rural communities in which they live. In coordination efforts through community centers and event gatherings, Greene is travelling the vast Southern Humboldt landscape offering help to those in need.
Ultimately, Greene would like to see a robust local economy in Southern Humboldt, attracting quality employers to the area. However, finding skilled laborers in the past has been an issue to development. “Our main mission is to create a workforce that helps entice businesses to come set up in Humboldt County. Right now, we have great resources [and] businesses are very interested in Humboldt County but when it comes to workforce development, we kind of fall flat,” she said.
The HWC currently works with the College of the Redwoods as an educational partner offering training opportunities to job seekers. Greene said that the HWC is looking to expand educational opportunities by partnering with Cal Poly Humboldt and various trade schools including the local beauty college to offer a wider range of training programs to meet the needs of Humboldt County businesses.
Currently, Greene said, the number one area of job growth is in the healthcare sector, however, in the next few years, large development projects in Humboldt will create thousands of skilled labor jobs. The hope is to create a workforce that will encourage growth and economic stability for the area.
Greene is available in-person at the Garberville Complex on Cedar Street from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month or at the various outreach events she’ll be attending. For more information on those events, or to schedule a meeting with Greene, email her at [email protected] or leave a phone message for her through the main office at (707) 441-5627.
Note: At the time of this interview, the news had yet to break about the PG&E issues that could hinder development in Southern Humboldt.
This article is written by Lisa Music, a local freelance journalist. To reach Lisa about tips, questions or comments, email her at [email protected]