Elevate targets colleges to retain skilled workers

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Elevate Rapid City is looking to generate 4,000 jobs in the Rapid City area over the next five years and to do that they are focusing on local colleges.

The president and CEO of Elevate, Tom Johnson, says the organization wants to act as a clearinghouse for matching students and businesses with opportunities. The goal is to keep as many skilled workers in the Black Hills as possible.

Targeting students with opportunities while they are still in the classroom is just one way of generating a skilled workforce. Johnson says they also use data to find graduates who have moved away and entice them back with a good job.

"We know every college has an alumni association and there is data that exists about where their alumni are," Johnson said. "You simply go through the lists of colleges that are in South Dakota and you can get those lists and find out where those folks are and say hey, 'you went to school in South Dakota and I know you are in Sioux Falls or Minneapolis or Denver now, but here is an opportunity that would be interesting to you. Come on back. Take a look at this job.'"

Johnson says the key is to have a good relationship with all of the local colleges.