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Northeast Iowa Community College partners with Reel Core to develop local workforce

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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

ALLAMAKEE 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 Allamakee County Business and Community 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.

Erika Murillo, HR manager for Reel Core in Waukon, is a member of the Business and Community Board. The company partnered with the College through the 260E Iowa New Jobs Training Program in 2013 to hire and train a wave of new employees. Reel Core also expanded its building and capacity in 2018. Ongoing dialogues with NICC about training options help to meet the company’s skilled workforce needs.  

“Reel Core is a growing organization that has identified certain skills, abilities and areas of expertise important for our employees to possess, in order to grow at the same pace as our organization. In addition, as the world of work in general continues to evolve, so does the demand for up-to-date methods and processes. We appreciate the ability to discuss the bigger community-based issues facing our business with those who are in a place to effect change. We also enjoy the ability to form partnerships and network with other organizations that we rely on as a community,” she said.

One of 10 business and community/sector boards in the NICC district, the Allamakee County Business and Community 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 Waukon and Allamakee 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 are invaluable and enhance our workforce,” Mihm-Herold said.

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.

Reel Core has focused its training efforts on several areas through Northeast Iowa Community College and the Waukon Center, Murillo noted.  

“Both on-the-job training and more structured classes through Northeast Iowa Community College have helped us train our staff. Reel Core employees learn best through participation and hands-on activities, which is why we really appreciate the NICC Waukon Center’s ability to provide classes that are engaging in those ways. Our employees have completed classes on providing a safe work environment, the ins and outs of industrial safety, proper equipment operation, emergency response actions and communication techniques to share these messages,” Murillo explained.

District-wide in 2018, NICC invested $3,015,000 in the 260E Iowa New Jobs Training Program, creating 238 jobs. In Allamakee County, 2,120 Business and Community Solutions course registrations were processed for 980 individuals in agriculture, healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing and career development. At the Waukon Center, 369 Business and Community Solutions students generated 414 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 Waukon Center and representation on the Business and Community Board, contact Erica Nosbisch, center director, at  (563) 568-3060 or



ABOUT REEL CORE: Reel Core understands that industrial packaging should be functional, economical and sustainable. This understanding led Reel Core to create a revolutionary new reel design for hose, rope and extruded products. In 1993 the company’s product concept took shape when it started using blow-molding to manufacture its patented reel. The unique design utilizes components that are interchangeable, light yet strong and 100 percent recyclable. The resulting product ships knocked down and assembles on site without mechanical fasteners, thus reducing shipping costs and saving warehouse space. Over 20 years later, the company’s innovative reels are still the preferred choice of industrial manufacturers around the world.