Business and Community Board providing “focused discussion and organized action” for business leaders

Denny Ford ...
Denny Ford ...

Building a successful future for Waukon and Allamakee County requires a collaborative dialogue and shared commitment between business partners, workforce agencies and educators.

The Allamakee County Business and Community Board is generating and providing a forum for these important conversations. Board members identify workforce needs, discuss employment trends and insights, and assist in the development of career pathways for high school students, according to member Denny Ford, president of Norplex-Micarta in Postville.

“These forums allow me a place to share my views, but also to hear from others and learn more about our collective needs, and the viewpoints of my peers in business and education,” Ford explained. “I think we have a common goal in that we want our students or employees to have successful experiences and to find satisfaction in the work they are doing. The more we work together to create these pathways from high school to employment, the smoother and more efficient the process will work. The Business and Community Board provides a nice balance of focused discussion and organized action.”
Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) developed the Business and Community Board two years ago, and this has provided a vision and vehicle for connecting the workplace to high schools and higher education, Ford added.

“I don’t think it was clear in the past, that we needed to be connected to streamline the process; individuals seeking jobs in the area benefit from our interactions. Today, we have students in our elementary and high schools that are already beginning to understand the skills they will need to engage the opportunities that surround them, and they can see the pathway they should take to be successful. As business leaders we gain from this, as educators we are encouraged by this, and as a participant in the process, we win when we move from learning to leading,” Ford emphasized.

There are now a total of 10 Business and Community Boards/Sector Boards in the NICC district that include representatives from hundreds of businesses. In addition to discussing a long-term vision for the region’s workforce, the Allamakee County Business and Community Board members are also active partners in the College’s Career Learning Link program. Career Learning Link and employers are providing work-based learning experiences that assist high school juniors and seniors with career planning, according to Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of business and community solutions.

“The collaborative work of these boards helps to identify and enhance the skills of current and future employees, so that they are competitive and local businesses thrive. Career Learning Link is bridging that important gap between high school students, Northeast Iowa Community College and well-paying, sustaining careers. When students have meaningful early connections to a future career, they are more successful in college and in their employment,” Mihm-Herold said. “Together, we are ensuring that all students and employees have the education, training and high-level skills they need to enter high-growth, in-demand careers.”

Business and Community Boards in the district represent many industries, including agriculture, food and natural resources; arts, communication and information systems; applied sciences, technology, engineering and manufacturing; health sciences; human services; and business, finance, marketing and management.

Districtwide in 2017, NICC invested $5,070,000 in the 260E Iowa New Jobs Training Program, creating 560 jobs. In Allamakee County, 1,538 Business and Community Solutions course registrations were processed for 864 residents in areas such as healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing and career development. At the Waukon Center, 321 Business and Community Solutions students generated 392 non-credit course registrations.

The Allamakee County Business and Community Board provides critical, impactful connections between businesses, educators, economic development and workforce agencies.  The objective is to serve stakeholders through the exchange of information and implementation of workforce solutions based on shared goals and human capital needs, leading to measurable results to help grow our businesses and communities.

For more information on services offered through the NICC Waukon Center and representation on the Business and Community Board, contact Erica Nosbisch, center director, at 563-568-3060 or

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