In Greater Hazleton, employers have many resources that can help them succeed in business, including a food-processing industry partnership that brings together companies with similar operations.
The Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board oversees the partnership, which connects food-processing companies with each other and with companies in the logistics and transportation industry. The group fosters collaboration with its partners, workforce investment agencies, local economic development groups and educational institutions.
Diane Wren, program manager for the partnership, said the groups were combined because of similar interests and intersecting goals.
“Joining the groups and their endeavors provided us with greater leverage and a broader range of ideas,” she said.
Partnership members, located throughout Luzerne and Schuylkill counties, meet on a quarterly basis to discuss issues that affect their industries, share ideas and hold events such as trainings and seminars that are beneficial to the partners.
“We look to support the food-processing and logistics and transportation industries in a variety of ways. At one meeting, for example, members discussed identifying ways to find the employees they are seeking, including through the Pennsylvania CareerLink, veterans’ groups and secondary schools,” Wren said.
One of the partnership’s accomplishments was creating the Qualified Food Worker Certification Program, a five-day training program for individuals interested in working in the food-processing industry. The program assists in developing a ready pool of candidates for open entry-level positions in local food-processing companies.
“Our partnership exists to serve its members and we are always welcoming new members, with no cost for involvement,” Wren said.
Jim Byerly, plant manager at Gonnella Frozen Products in Humboldt Industrial Park, said his company has been part of the partnership for about three years.
“Through the partnership, I have been able to establish several contacts in the area,” he said. “It has been very helpful for our group members to hear from each other about successes, setbacks and resources of all types.”