In the third episode of the #LoudounPossible Pod, it was the first double feature of guests, with Nancy Evanko, the workforce analyst for Loudoun Economic Development, and Molly Kroiz, the co-owner of Georges Mill Farm.
Evanko has been at the forefront of connecting businesses with workforce development partners in the community, including K-12 and higher education partners for training and retooling, the Loudoun Workforce Resource Center, and having a better understanding of the labor needs in Loudoun.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Loudoun County had an unemployment rate below 2%, which makes it very difficult for some businesses to attract the talent that they need. With the outbreak of the virus, Evanko and the department made the shift to focus on workers who recently lost their employment through furloughs, layoffs and business closure.
That includes a brand new jobs portal, launched to the public on April 1, that collects all of the publicly-posted available jobs in Loudoun County into one, sortable, searchable database.
“I’m thrilled that we were able to launch it sooner than we anticipated. It’s important for us to provide some information but also the link, an easier link, so that people can go onto one career site to find all of the jobs and all of the employers that are currently hiring,” Evanko explained. “It makes sense to be able to do that, without having to look at multiple job boards.
“If we can provide this easy access and critical access to those industries like healthcare and information technology, data center operations, this is going to be a game-changer for a lot of people.”
Another game-changer is how people are viewing food sources and grocery shopping during this health crisis. Molly Kroiz and her husband, Sam, run Georges Mill Farm, which includes additional businesses such as a bed and breakfast and on-site farm store.
While the B&B business has suffered during the outbreak, the farm store, which runs on the honor system and is frequently empty of people, has seen a surge in business.
“On the positive end, we’ve seen a really big uptick in traffic to our farm store, which is great,” she told #LoudounPossible Pod host Buddy Rizer. “It’s a good alternative to the grocery store. We’ve got a good bit of stuff in there and it’s not a staffed store. It’s about as socially distant as you can get and still buy food.
“There’s definitely been an uptick in interest for people about local food, which is exciting. Hopefully, maybe that will be a silver lining when we come out of this, because people will have an increased appreciation for having farmers in their backyards.”
Listen to the full episode: