Grand Island officials hope at least some of the money JBS is investing in Grand island might be used to help workers in general as well as those who might work at JBS.
Cindy Johnson of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce talked with leaders of the Grand Island plant two or three weeks ago. The investment in the city was discussed at that time.
The group talked about ways that the dollars could have a “sustaining impact on the community,” Johnson said.
One area JBS might be interested in involves workforce services. “And so we will be having conversations with our local folks” about “how that might work for our community,” Johnson said.
She thinks the company might have an interest in training or retraining its existing employees, as well as other people in the community, “to fill positions that are available or are identified as soon to be available at JBS.”
“That’s what we’re looking at doing with them. So we’re really excited about that,” Johnson said.
Grow Grand Island will have a conversation with JBS executives on Wednesday, said chairwoman Tonja Brown.
“We think we have a great project that they will be interested in,” Brown said, referring to an “upskilling” program called Edge.
That program is related to the Department of Labor’s workplace competency pyramid, she said.
In a nutshell, the program is designed “to take adults in our community who are perhaps somewhat stuck in their circumstances” and give them better opportunities and make them better applicants, Brown said.
Grow Grand Island has been working on the upskilling program for a couple of years. The COVID-19 pandemic has gotten in the way somewhat, but if the program can be launched this year or early next year, “it might be in line with what JBS is wanting to do,” she said.
There will probably be a variety of ways in which JBS can use the money, Brown said. “But we certainly think this investment in improving our workforce is a good one. And we are anxious to talk to them about it on Wednesday.”
Mayor Roger Steele doesn’t know how the money will be spent, but said he is “very pleased that JBS wants to try to help our community.”
The investment shows that “they have a spirit of being a good corporate citizen, and that’s very much appreciated,” Steele said, adding that he is “very excited about the news.”
Johnson said the chamber always is pleased when businesses “recognize the importance of contributing to the community.”