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Removing Barriers in Adams County, CO

Rocky Mountain Partnership works to remove socioeconomic barriers to keep a pipeline of skilled talent flowing to businesses.

By Teree Caruthers on May 26, 2023

Rocky Mountain Partnership
Ryan Dearth

A skilled talent pool is essential for a growing economy and quality of life; but for some of the workforce, language, accessibility and other barriers can keep them from gaining the skills they need for a successful career. The Rocky Mountain Partnership (RMP) collaborates with residents, businesses and educational institutions to remove those barriers that prevent community members from achieving social and economic mobility.

The RMP and its partner organizations have identified four key focus areas – health and mental health; social and criminal justice; education, training, and skill development; and economic and workforce development – which when addressed, will help solve challenging problems facing the community.

“We’re looking at things like unemployment and labor force participation, how many of our residents are earning a self-sufficient wage and what does top job growth look like,” says Ashley Edinger, senior director of strategic supports for the RMP. “Some of our community members do not necessarily have the skills and credentials needed to enter high growth, high-demand, good paying jobs.”

From Cradle to Career

The RMP works with the public schools, trade schools and universities to increase access to skills training. The network also follows employees after they’ve been hired to assist with up-skilling.

“Skill credential attainment is such a critical component because it helps people be able to thrive if they can earn a wage that takes care of themselves and their families,” says Lisandra Gonzales, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Partnership. “That’s why we support that pipeline all the way from K-12 schools, community colleges and trade schools through employment to ensure our community members are supported all along their career journey.”

For example, the RMP supported 27 local public schools in their efforts to pass the first mill levy override in two years, which will raise funds to expand career and technical education, among other initiatives.

The RMP is also working with Westminster Public Schools to develop a state-of-the-art, multipurpose career and technical center. The school district plans to convert a former middle school into an innovative campus open to the community.

“The campus will be open from the early hours to the late evenings, and will not only help expand career development training programs for K-12 in Westminster Public schools, but for adult learners, as well. This is a first step toward a larger effort to increase the supply of talent to jobs across the entire region,” she says.

Community Service

Gonzales says the RMP provides the space for all different cross sector partners to come together and work on projects that will improve the overall talent supply. An example of this effort is Adelante Community Development, an organization that works to advance the economic and educational attainment of Adams County’s Latino population.

“Our organization is a one-stop shop for Latino employees, entrepreneurs and their families, providing education, technical assistance, essential business skills, and health and wellness services,” says Maria Gonzales, executive director of Adelante Community Development.  “When we partner with Rocky Mountain Partnership, we look at every aspect of the human being within our community. We want to find out what are their barriers to success and what do they really need.”

Adams County’s population is 42% Latino with a thriving entrepreneurial community, but Maria Gonzales says many lack the technical knowledge and financial education to grow their businesses.

“During the pandemic, we realized that individuals could not be competitive digitally because they didn’t have knowledge about things like how to create a website or a marketing campaign. They didn’t have the financial knowledge to apply for grants, so that leaves them behind; that leaves them out of economic opportunities,” she says.

The organization launched a program that helps entrepreneurs build a website, create a social media presence and develop content, messaging and branding.

“The program gives business owners the digital knowledge to upscale their business, which means they can have more visibility leading to more customers,” Maria Gonzales says. “And that trickles down to job creation because small businesses are job creators. That’s good for the economic development of the entire region.”

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