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Friday, January 28, 2022

Applications sought for JSDC Internship Reimbursement Program in Stutsman County

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November 20 – Applications are being accepted for Winter/Spring 2022 for the JSDC Internship Reimbursement Program at Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Until December 20. Training will start no later than January.

JSDC set aside $105,000 for the program, which was launched earlier this year, with approval from the city of Jamestown and Stutsman County. The program is designed to increase the number of local trainings and help employers recruit and retain their workforce, according to the JSDC. The JSDC Internship Reimbursement Program contributes up to $3,500 to compensate employers who hire college/college students to help with payroll costs and is open to employers in Stutsman County.

Cory Schifflin, director of business development at JSDC, said six employers have received funding through the program since its inception, and 13 interns from seven colleges and universities have participated. Companies small and large participated in, including Cavendish Farms, Collins Aerospace, North Dakota Farmers Union, BluFrog Realty & Property Management, Advantage Electric and Stutsman Harley-Davidson.

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“We saw a large group, which is good because I think help is needed,” Schifflin said. “In every industry, it’s tough when you’re talking to employers or making visits, and the first thing we always hear is the challenges they’ve always faced workforces. So this is still a way we can help without supporting a real job or anything. I still think employee should be paid, that’s just a way to help with that and help companies attract employees.”

The trainees participating in the program came from Jamestown University, University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, North Dakota State College of Science, University of Illinois, South Dakota State University, and South Dakota School of Mines.

“The intent of the program for us is to bring students into the community or bring interns into the community whether they start here or they come here and work and hopefully enjoy Jamestown and Stutsman County,” Schifflin said, “and hopefully the end goal is to hire them full time and add them to our workforce and base.” Taxation in our society is here.”

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Jen Dockter, broker/managing partner at BluFrog Realty, said the software works well with BluFrog Realty. She said she would recommend it to other companies.

“I haven’t seen any problems with it at all,” she said. “It was a good experience for us and we will definitely do it again.”

BluFrog Realty intern, Lauren Steuben, is an undergraduate at Jamestown University. BluFrog received the maximum reimbursement of payroll costs permitted under the JSDC program and after Steuben’s training was officially completed, she continued to work there, receiving credit from UJ.

“I think it’s definitely great that this is being introduced within our community,” Docter said. She said that receiving compensation for part of the trainee’s wages is an incentive to participate in the program.

Steuben said she had never been part of an internship program before. She said she was into real estate and property management and thought it was something she wanted to delve into.

“It was very interesting,” she said. “I don’t like to do the same thing every day.”

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The application process is simple, Scheflin said, and requires information that most employers already have when they advertise their jobs.

“We find that when applications get too stressful, it’s not worth having some people fill them in, so we try to avoid[that],” Schifflin said. “We try to keep it simple front to back but still do our due diligence to make sure the right people are put into the right positions…”

He said the program is business-led, not student-led.

“That’s our goal with this program is to attract a workforce or help employers attract a workforce into our community,” Schifflin said. “We think this is a way that can incentivize that company to do it. We pay for a one-to-one match on the payroll but we don’t have any restrictions on what the employer does with it after sending that check. We’ve heard that some employers use it as a situation of some sort. The bonus is that if the intern does a great job, it’s kind of a cherry over the end of the training… they want to attract the workforce and their employees, we thought flexibility would be beneficial for them.”

The training schedule is up to the employer.

“When funding is available, we try to keep it on a semester-by-semester basis,” Schifflin said. “If the intern is going to last more than a semester, he will be happy or willing to apply again but we can’t guarantee that, we want to take on the new intern jobs on the recurring jobs.”

The intern must be paid $15 per hour and the employer must apply before the intern begins work. Preference is given to applications for small businesses, and a four-member panel of the JSDC Board reviews and records applications. Schifflin said this registration process is important if there are more applications than funding is available. So far, this hasn’t been a problem.

The scoring is related to five questions: whether there is an appropriate job description, what learning objectives meet the job description, does it match the intern’s field of study, does the intern work 20 hours per week or more, and how many full-time employees are there at work. The applicant gets lower points for intern working hours less than 20 and if there are more than 15 employees.

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Schifflin said exit interviews are also part of getting to know the pilot. He expects to have “a lot of information” at the end of the first year of the program and hopes to be renewed for 2022-23 after revision.

“I think it has been very beneficial to our business, but that will be a review for the board and committee,” he said.

Schifflin said Jamestown’s need for manpower isn’t unique, noting in meetings with economic developers, it’s issue #1.

“How do we attract people and if there’s a magic bullet… you let people do that, I think it would be very public how it works,” he said. “But there are so many things that our community does that I think we highlight and try to do a good job of explaining why living and working in Jamestown is such a great place. For a small community, the amount of amenities here in Jamestown and Stutsman County is incredible.”

For an application form for the program, go to https://bit.ly/3oAN70J. For information about the program, visit https://bit.ly/3oGzCwq. For more information on JSDC, visit https://www.growingjamestown.com/.

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