Belitz: Drive for Five connects employers, job seekers

Continuing our annual tradition, today’s column is an update on the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce’s work in talent recruitment and retention. For several years, that work has been done through the Drive for Five initiative, currently led by Kara Asmus. As such, I’ve asked Kara to share her annual report with you:

Drive for Five has now been active for a decade, connecting talented individuals with the many job opportunities available in Columbus. We’ve shared information about available jobs, quality of life in Columbus and the many amenities that are available here in our community.

Twenty-one recruiting trips were taken this year to career fairs in Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. We continued in our effort to attract our nation’s veterans, helping them find employment after their years of service to our country.

Our online reach is growing through the Drive for Five website,, as well as through our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. Over 390 job seekers shared their resume with us in 2017. Those resumes were distributed to our Drive for Five partners and employers who might have an interest in their skill sets.

Drive for Five has been able to have a direct, face-to-face connection with over 1,300 legitimately interested job seekers through these methods of engagement and we have told the story of opportunity to thousands of others who may one day decide to call Columbus their home.

Connecting with individuals who have moved away from the community was another area of attention. Communication pieces are sent to alumni of our local school systems sharing the word of job opportunities, community information and success stories from the alumni who have returned.

Local summer interns were able to get a better look at Columbus during our Summer Intern Networking Series. Three events were held during their stay in our community. These events served to help them meet other individuals in a similar situation as themselves and acquainted them with all our community has to offer if they choose to locate here permanently.

Targeted marketing and community tours are two of the methods we’ve used to connect with job seekers outside our area and we’ve been successful in attracting skilled workers by sharing the great news about our careers, cost of living and the quality of life that can only be found in a progressive community such as ours.

Partnerships between our schools and businesses have been a critical component and major focus for Drive for Five. Career awareness and readiness programs were hosted for Columbus Public Schools, Lakeview Community Schools and Scotus Central Catholic students. Various school/business partnership programs included College Week, Bank in Schools, Vehicle Day, Reality 101, Industry in Education, Education in Industry, Future Problem Solvers and visits to schools from the Dream It Do It Dream Team. These programs expose students to careers in Columbus and prepare our students with the skills and information they will need to be career-ready.

Finally, training events were offered to employers to improve their skills as supervisors, which will create an environment they and their employees will want to stay in.

Drive for Five efforts at recruitment, retention and readiness have had a positive impact in growing our region’s pool of talent. Thanks to these partners, the Drive for Five can seek solutions and implement strategies to facilitate growth in our community’s labor force: ADM; ARL Credit Services; Associated Staffing; BD Medical Systems and BD Pharmaceutical Systems; Behlen Mfg. Co.; Black Hills Energy; CAMACO; Cargill Meat Solutions and Cargill Protein; Central Confinement Systems; City of Columbus; Columbus Community Hospital; Columbus Hydraulics; Columbus Public Schools; Columbus United Federal Credit Union; Cornhusker Public Power District; Duo-Lift Manufacturing Company; FLEXcon Company; HOME Real Estate; John Crane-Orion; Lakeview Community Schools; Loup Power District; Pillen Family Farms; Pinnacle Bank; Platte County; Preferred Sands of Genoa; Samson LLC and Ramada; and Valmont Industries.

As you can see, there is a broad base of businesses and schools working together to grow the talent pool in Columbus. That’s really the only way to have success. However, it also takes a lot of organization and communication, so thanks to Kara for her dynamic leadership of this initiative.


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