Shortage of workers puts Boone County businesses in bind

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BOONE COUNTY, Ind. — As trucks move in and out of Lebanon Business Park filling the demand for business, the demand for workers is climbing with it.

“We’re turning down the opportunity to bid work all the time because it just doesn’t fit our schedule, we can’t staff it,” said Ben Forsythe, a project manager for Merritt Contracting.

Forsythe says they get multiple offers to bid everyday, but because they’re underemployed by 15%, they can’t apply for them all.

“Getting good qualified people that can do the work, run the work, and manage the work, that’s our biggest limiting factor as a company,” Forsythe said.

Merritt Contracting isn’t alone. From retail in Whitestown, to other businesses in the county, employers are in search of workers.

“By-and-large, it’s quantity of people that are needed,” said Molly Whitehead, the executive director for the Boone County Economic Development Corporation.

Her organization helps employers by hosting job fairs and HR roundtables.

She says the county has added thousands of jobs as they expand, but with an unemployment rate of 2.8%, the number of qualified applications isn’t keeping up.

“It really is a quantity issue. There are simply thousands of job opportunities available throughout central Indiana, throughout the state of Indiana, and so it is a very competitive market right now,” Whitehead said.

As for Merritt Contracting, they’ve advertised that they’re hiring around the area to get the word out. They’re hoping to hire more employees so they can tackle the growing list of projects in central Indiana.

“Finding good, young people that are trying to learn and come in and be able to take that next step and be experienced tradesmen is very tough and difficult to find,” Forsythe said.

“It’s a good career. There’s a lot of opportunity, especially as the older generation phases out. There’ll be some gaps that have opened up for that, and there will definitely be needs.”

For more information on job openings at Merritt Contracting, click HERE.

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