Tri-County Region Hires Work-Based Learning Coordinator


Economic Development organizations in the tri-county “Stronger Economic Together” (SET) region of Jefferson, Washington, and Henry Counties recently completed a plan to collaborate on some economic development initiatives. One of the plan’s primary goals is to increase our future workforce and to address the skills gap in the tri-county region. Participants in the planning process believed this could be addressed through a more efficient alignment of workforce efforts between K-12+ education and the business community to address our workforce gaps.

The SET Region Steering Committee is pleased to announce that Sarah Johnson has been hired to serve as a Work-Based Learning Coordinator through this process. Thanks to her extensive background in both education and the business community, Johnson is the ideal candidate to work directly with the schools as well as with business community to best identify the region’s needs and assist in developing a strong workforce pipeline.

The planning effort will include background research with area economic development organizations to understand their workforce development initiatives, as well as with work-based learning coordinators, guidance counselors, career & technical education instructors and community college leaders. Johnson will spend time meeting with parents and students to discuss their interest level in internships, job shadowing and future employment and career goals. Key throughout this process, Johnson will be meeting with area business leaders and human resource personnel to discuss their future workforce needs.

Once this research is complete, we hope to identify some best practices for the tri-county region. This plan will identify what barriers or challenges the region will face in recruiting a future workforce and will make specific recommendations to the SET region about how to proceed with future workforce initiatives.

The Work-Based Learning Coordinator position was made possible by $5,000 seed grant from the USDA. She will be hosted by the Fairfield Economic Development Association [FEDA], the Mount Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance, and Washington Economic Development Group. The facilitator will be guided by a steering committee composed of members representing economic development organizations and educational institutions in the SE Iowa region.

“We are looking forward to seeing the results of the research that Sarah will be putting together for us,” stated Joshua Laraby, Executive Director for FEDA, “Workforce development is one of FEDA’s core strategic priorities and I’m eager to begin to implementing  the opportunities that she identifies.”

For more information, contact FEDA at 641.472.3436,, or