Helping our neighbors and friends is fueling our fire.

By: Sarah Moylan, director – Team Talent, Greater Omaha Chamber

I call them our “gut check” moments – those times in our lives when circumstances drill straight to the core: What are we made of? Our region had a “gut check” on Oct. 1, when ConAgra announced its plan to uproot corporate headquarters and lay-off local 1,000 workers. Those workers are grappling with their personal “gut checks” right now, deciding what’s next and best for them and their families. Stay here? Seek out opportunities elsewhere? And, it was a “gut check” for me as the Chamber’s Director of Talent + Workforce and someone who loves this community.

I’ll admit – I was shocked. This was a blow to our region and hundreds of talented people who live here. I couldn’t really wrap my head around the fact that a company would uproot lives and move its headquarters. I was affected through a ripple effect but many people whom I had worked with for years and considered friends were directly affected by this decision. What was their world like? How could I help them?

We knew the Chamber needed to do something. We leapt into action and pulled together a group business leaders to throw some ideas on the wall on how start we could keep these highly-skilled and talented workers in our region.

Those initial 12 companies had 600 open positions paying $80,000+. Knowing that gave us great momentum that there were plenty of opportunities out there beyond the 12 companies – we just had to connect job seekers to them. That pool has since grown to 177 companies with more than 4,200 ‘mid-level and above’ career opportunities. More companies are contacting us every day about accessing this bank of workers.

The shock has worn off. The excitement of implementing creative solutions and helping our friends out of this crummy situation is fueling my fire…our fire. I hope these efforts help bring reassurance to those who lost jobs and acquired uncertainty; reassurance that local companies are hiring and a flood of great opportunities exist. Right here. Right now. Reassurance that we’re in this together.

Our team at the Chamber is working day-in and day-out to ensure our displaced workers have the resources and information they need to connect with potential new employers – and that employers see this setback as an opportunity to recruit talent now on the market and use it to benefit their companies.

  • WeDontCoast.com/jobs has been created to gather contact information for those seeking employment and connect them to job opportunities.
  • Companies looking to be connected with displaced workers can submit their information at http://bit.ly/WereInThisTogether.

I want Omaha’s talent to stay in Omaha. That’s my focus. If you are one of the displaced workers, take advantage of the resources available – and plan to continue making your mark right here. Together, we’ll get through this “gut check,” and as is most often the case, we’ll emerge stronger than ever.

2 Comments on “Helping our neighbors and friends is fueling our fire.”

  1. 1 Maggie C. Witt said at 9:22 pm on November 5th, 2015:

    Thank you for the wonderful message here, Sarah. I am encouraged by it, and will seek out more information via the “wedontcoast.com/jobs” webpage above. I was informed yesterday my position at ConAgra has been eliminated, along with 420+ other people here in Omaha. I remain hopeful I will land in another position here in Omaha, but that sickening feeling of losing one’s livelihood is like getting “punched in the gut” and it’s still pretty fresh. That said, I look forward to attending any upcoming career networking opportunities that arise. And the sooner, the better. Thank you for giving me hope!

    Sincerely,
    Maggie Witt

  2. 2 A former ConAgran said at 4:15 pm on November 6th, 2015:

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t leave my name for obvious reasons.

    I grew up here. While in the service, I saw a lot of the country, coast to coast and the world, but never found a place where the people were as friendly and the pace was as relaxed as Omaha. It suited me. I have met many people from around the world here in Omaha who stayed because we are who we are. My wife is from New York. She came here 1 time and she was amazed by the city and people here. She decided this was the place for her to raise her family.

    Some people demean the city. They say we are dull, have a small talent pool and aren’t “hip” as the new CEO of ConAgra put it. This was his “personal” decision. A thing done with intent that can be seen in the people he has hired from the beginning and the timing of his office space search in his home town. He’s done this before. He recruits for Chicago business. Let him go back to Chicago. (A city known to be well on it’s way to becoming the next Detroit within a very few years)

    Omaha continues to grow. We aren’t perfect but we work at it.

    This site and the article above is an great example of who we are. We care about each other even though at times it seems we may not. When a crisis arises, no one pulls together better than the people of this city. The people who are being dismissed from ConAgra appreciate all that you do and the support that everyone has shown.

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