Sep. 23—OXFORD — How local manufacturers can best retain valuable employees was a key theme running through a roundtable discussion program held Wednesday morning at the Civic Center.
The Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce and the Calhoun County Economic Development Agency co-sponsored the session, at which local manufacturing representatives acquired useful information and got a "pep talk" of sorts on what makes Calhoun County a great place to do business.
Kim Boyd, the Chamber's director of membership and investor relations, called the morning a chance to "discuss topics that are really relevant to your business."
"We know your biggest pressure point is employees," Boyd said. "We want to find good employees. We want to keep them. We want to take care of them."
Taking advantage of educational opportunities for employees was the first topic, with Kelly Martin of Jacksonville State University speaking about JSU's 20 percent tuition discount offered to employees of Chamber members.
Martin said any employees who might be working on a degree "could probably use" the discount, or it might serve as an incentive for those thinking about returning to classes.
"This is 20 percent off of their total tuition cost," Martin said. "They can apply for free. It is available to full and part time employees and/or students."
She said two of the most popular programs are in industrial leadership and manufacturing systems technology, with some courses offering credits for work experience.
"If you have anyone working looking to get their master's degree, that is available with work credits and online making it very flexible with work schedules," Martin said.
The well-being of employees was addressed by Bridgette Magouirk of RMC Health Systems.
She said RMC offer companies on-site medical clinics, which give employees access to board certified physicians and real-time treatment.
Phil Webb of Webb Concrete and Building Materials provided an overview of all the things that make Calhoun County a great place to own and operate a business.
Webb said he found as his business was getting started that people in Calhoun County "were there to help if they were asked."
He noted the number of quality universities within the local radius that "provides opportunities."
"All I used to hear was 'near Atlanta,' 'near Birmingham,' and 'near perfect,' Webb said. "It's still true today. Just look at our location right here at I-20. We have RMC — a wonderful health system. Look at our tourism and attractions with bike and horse trails, Cheaha Mountain, and Choccolocco Park, Look at the retail in Oxford. Look at the safety provided by the East Metro Area Crime Center."
"We live in a pretty dang good state and a pretty dang good part of the state," Webb said.