Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}}Securing a skilled workforce is critical to companies in advanced manufacturing industries, including those in the automotive sector. In addition to possessing the right skills, a positive work ethic and a commitment to ongoing training are essential. The seven-county Joplin region of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma has received high marks from its automotive employers for all of these attributes. It is located in the center of North American consumer markets and central to the 100 auto plants that stretch from Ontario, Canada, to Chihuahua, Mexico.

The Joplin region has a long history of making things America and the world need, including components for all sorts of vehicles. The region offers significant workforce advantages to automakers and the companies that supply them. Both K-12 school districts and postsecondary education providers — including a network of community colleges — have a strong focus on workforce development, offering programs that deliver the skills today’s automotive manufacturers need.

{{SIDEIMAGE1}} One of the companies that took advantage of training offered by the area’s community colleges is Modine Manufacturing, according to Lori Scott Dreiling, the company’s human resources manager. The 100-year-old maker of EGR components for the diesel industry — whose customers include Volvo, Navistar, and Ford, among others — needed to advance its workers’ skills in industrial maintenance and electricity. In order to accomplish this, Modine partnered with the Webb City, Mo., campus of Crowder College. Modine paid all its workers’ expenses for a two-and-half-year training program at Crowder that was recently successfully completed by 10 of its employees. The company has now enrolled another six in the program.

Additionally, the region aggressively worked with ACT to implement career-ready certification to national standards. According to state sources, Jasper County is the first ACT Career-Ready Certified community in the United States. Other counties in the region are working on their designations, but even now, more than 5,000 people in the workforce have their skills certification.