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CUSB Bank values Northeast Iowa Community College Sector Board role in workforce development

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

photo of scott thomsonHOWARD COUNTY–Developing the area’s workforce talent, whether the skills employees need include computer networking, leadership strategies or Lean manufacturing, can seem like trying to hit a moving target. Identifying these skilled workforce needs, however, is a process made far simpler through partnerships among decision-makers.

The Howard County Sector Board formed with this purpose in mind, and its ongoing conversations can impact new employee recruitment and retention initiatives, and provide a forum to share best practices. Northeast Iowa Community College developed these boards to encourage discussion among educators, economic development officials and local business leaders, and to help members prepare for the future.

Scott Thomson, president of CUSB Bank in Cresco, is a member of the Howard County Sector Board. The company partnered with the College to provide training for its employees in leadership, computer software applications, First Aid, human resources and strategies for working with multiple generations in the workforce. Ongoing dialogues with NICC about training options help to meet the company’s skilled workforce needs.  

“We feel it is very beneficial to work with Northeast Iowa Community College and the Cresco Center because of the opportunities they bring to our staff and our community. NICC has a great team of trainers/expertise that have helped to develop our team. Employees are our number one asset, and we want to invest in their future through ongoing training and development,” Thomson said. “Training through the College provides an outside perspective, knowledge base, structure and level of professionalism that can’t always be replicated with on-the-job training.”

One of 10 Business and Community/Sector Boards in the NICC district, the Howard County Sector Board serves as a catalyst for workforce development, explained Wendy Mihm-Herold, Ph.D., NICC vice president of business and community solutions.

“Our business leaders in Cresco and Howard County participate in these critical  conversations to assess new opportunities and workforce challenges. Their insights help Northeast Iowa Community College and educators identify the skills employees need, and the most effective strategies to train individuals on these skills. Our conversations with business partners enhance our workforce,” Mihm-Herold said.

Business and Community/Sector 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.

The forum provided through the Howard County Sector Board encourages invaluable discussions about the workforce and the next generation of the region’s employees, Thomson noted.

“The involvement in the local sector board gives us the opportunity to give feedback on workforce awareness and to learn what steps our schools are taking to prepare students for the workforce. Work-based learning activities give students a chance to see employment opportunities within the local area. They can learn about opportunities other than known banking roles, such as loan officer or teller, but a variety – marketing, HR, compliance, operations and accounting. We take great pride in our culture and find that bringing students in and showing them our CUSB Bank family will entice them to come back after college, when they are ready to enter the workforce or are considering a move back to Cresco,” Thomson explained.

District-wide in 2018, NICC invested $3,015,000 in the 260E Iowa New Jobs Training Program, creating 364 jobs. In Howard County, 1,156 Business and Community Solutions course registrations were processed for 806 individuals in healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing and career development. At the Cresco Center, 322 Business and Community Solutions students generated 316 non-credit course registrations.

The Howard County Sector 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 Cresco Center and representation on the Sector Board, contact Jessica Reis, center director, at (563) 547-3355, ext. 3, or


ABOUT CUSB BANK: CUSB Bank is a family-owned bank in northeast Iowa, serving the communities in and around Cresco, Ridgeway, Lime Springs, Osage and Charles City. To learn more go to