Lexington business leaders talk labor force, brainstorm solutions

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Industries across the country are still suffering a crippling labor shortage. Business leaders in Lexington met Thursday morning to brainstorm causes and solutions.

Lexington Forum President Brad Farley said he’s glad the group’s first in-person meeting of the year covered a topic affecting many. The forum hosted expert panelists and several business leaders throughout the city.

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“We want to host conversations that matter,” Farley said. “We kinda dissect that a little bit deeper beyond what the internet, or anyone else, might be shouting about to see how it’s affecting us locally in Lexington.”

Farley said that in-depth analysis included discussing evictions and inflation. He added the group also talked about surging coronavirus cases and how that affects people wanting to work in person and whether their kids can go back to school. Farley said it’s about understanding that most factors snowball together.

Tom Braker, owner of Remedy Staffing, an employment agency in Lexington, said he’s seen about an 80-percent decrease in people actively looking for work.

He said he’s even stretched thin; he’s looking to fill more than 100 positions.

Braker said employers have to adjust to the new market.

“It used to be you go to work just to get a check and make ends meet,” Braker said, “Now, people are really wanting something that’s the right fit for them.”

Braker adds it’s not just about money. He said people are no longer accepting uncomfortable, or toxic, work environments – among other factors.

“I believe everyone wants to feel welcomed,” Braker said.

Community Action Council Executive Director Sharon Price was a panelist at Thursday’s forum, and is currently looking for 60 employees.

She said she took away a powerful message.

“If we all work together and we try to come up with different solutions and ideas that might be able to help somebody, or help another business, that’s what I’m really hoping that takeaway will be,” Price said.

The forum meets the first Thursday of each month and membership is open to all.