Grant County business survey shows mixed results
Grant County companies had neutral-to-negative feedback regarding the overall education of the county's workforce's education. However, learning is evolving in Grant County and campuses like CB Tech (pictured), Big Bend Community College and the upcoming Vanguard Academy are working to train the workforce to meet the demands of incoming tech industry jobs.
Staff Report | August 7, 2022 2:05 PM
EPHRATA — China is the most important export market for major businesses in Grant County, according to the Grant County Economic Development Council’s recently released Wage and Benefits Survey for 2022.
The survey, conducted with assistance from the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, received responses from 19 companies operating in Grant County, found that 84.5% of the companies surveyed export some share of their output, with China being the most important buyer of Grant County products. China is followed by Japan, the rest of Asia and then Canada.
Companies responding to the survey were not named in the 57-page report. Of the responding companies, 14 had operations in Moses Lake, two in Quincy, and two in Othello, while the others did not respond. One company responding to the survey has been operating at its current site in Grant County for 106 years, while the newest company in the survey has only been in the area for five years.
The largest company in the survey reported having 678 full-time employees — 94 of them salaried — for a total payroll of $44 million while the smallest company reported having 11 full-time employees with only one salaried position for a total annual payroll of $550,000.
On questions related to the local workforce, 57.9% of the companies surveyed reported worker productivity as good, while 26.3% assessed worker productivity as fair and 15.8% as excellent. Assessment of worker reliability, however, was not as positively perceived with 31.6% of respondents saying worker reliability is poor, 21.1% as fair, 36.8% as good, and only 10.5% as excellent.
Worker skills in reading, writing and math were assessed as good — 47.4% for math, 52.6% for reading and writing — while 57.9% of companies surveyed reported worker computer skills as fair, and only 31.6% rated them as good. Nearly half of all respondents, 47.4%, rated worker readiness as good, while 36.8% rated it as fair and 10.5% as poor.
No company rated worker readiness as excellent, according to the survey.
According to the survey, 44.4% of respondent companies rated local public schools as fair, with 22.2% rating them poor and only 16.7% rating them as good. However, 16.7% of respondents said they were unable to determine the quality of the local public schools in preparing students to enter the workforce, and no respondent rated them excellent.
While half of the respondents rated the local quality of life as good and 55.6% said the business climate in the region is good, 38.9% of companies surveyed said the local transportation system in Grant County is poor.
The three most common occupations listed in the report at responding companies are maintenance mechanic, employed by 70.6% of respondents, followed by electricians, at 64.7%, and buyers/purchasers, also at 64.7%. The highest entry-level wage reported in the survey is $48-per-hour for sales managers followed by $32-per-hour for engineering technicians, while the highest wages reported are $153,000 for engineering managers followed by $137,000 for operations managers.