VCDC, Masaba cooperating to find workers

The expansion of Masaba Mining, Inc. should have positive effects for the Vermillion area well into the future.

"This type of capital investment in the community pays off for years to come," said Steve Howe, executive director of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company (VCDC).

According to company president Jerad Higman, Masaba is set to add at least 50 new positions this year, with an additional 70 in the next one to three years.

"It's an amount of growth that is fairly unprecedented in Vermillion," Howe said. "I think it really shows that we are a community where industry can be successful."

This was one of the aims of the Vermillion NOW! initiative, which identified manufacturing as one of its target industries, he said.

Now the VCDC is working with Masaba to help find the needed employees. To this end, they will sponsor a job fair Saturday in Sioux City to benefit Masaba, as well as Builders Choice and Polaris.

"Historically, we haven't needed as many skilled trades, but as a community we're going to have to step up and really start addressing those needs," Howe said.

The majority of those hired probably will come from Clay and the surrounding counties, Howe said.

"We're going to have to pull in from Yankton, we're going to have to pull in from Sioux City and Sioux Falls," he said. "That's just a fact of life of living in Vermillion. You look at any of the employers, the make-up is vast majority Clay County, supplemented with … outside (communities). It's definitely a mix of both local and commuter."

Finding living accommodations for these incoming employees will make it necessary to address some of Vermillion's "housing shortages," Howe said.

"I'm not talking about the existing inventory, I'm talking about the opportunity for new homes to be built," he said. "If we're going to be successful long-term in recruiting growth, they're going to want a place to live, and they're going to want a nice place to live."

But those employees will bring more revenue into the community, as well.

"Based on some previous studies that we had done in how much of the money (employees earn) stays local, we can expect probably about 55 percent of that to be local consumer expenditures," Howe said.

The growth of manufacturing in Vermillion also could lead to more businesses coming in, he said.

"People want to locate their businesses in areas where people speak their language, where people are doing similar things, where they're comfortable. They like to cluster," he said.

The growth in manufacturing shows that Vermillion could be one of those "cluster areas," Howe said.

"(Masaba) knows they're not going to be the only manufacturer in town now," he said. "It provides a comfort level for a new business considering setting up a manufacturing because somebody's already paved that trail for them."

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