Sep 24, 2021

21st Century economic development arrives in Junction City

Posted Sep 24, 2021 11:53 AM

 Economic Development leaders in Junction City have unveiled a new pilot program called Junction for Military / Civilian Innovation. This program will be designed to help soldiers departing Fort Riley transition to high paying in-demand type jobs of the future, and could convince some of those Soldiers and their families to remain in the local area as a result.

The consulting firm, Initiatives Inc., has been collaborating with Chamber of Commerce economic development officials, Fort Riley, private companies and regional universities on this project, with a goal of eventually rolling it out to other military installations across Kansas and the nation. 

Chamber of Commerce President Mickey Fornaro-Dean said this program will be a game changer for Junction City, and has called it 21st Century economic development.  Until now the project was identified by the code name "Quantum and one of the goals is an innovation district in Junction City for the U.S. Defense Department. Plans are to explain the entire project to community leaders during a presentation on Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. at the Municipal Building. 

Approximately 2,200 to 2,600 Soldiers per year depart the Army at Fort Riley. Junction City could benefit if even a small number of those soldiers obtaining good jobs choose to remain here, and over time those numbers could increase. Their spouses could find employment as well. There would be a major impact on property tax revenue, investments in homes and other community projects and in sales tax revenue. Junction City would be a center of attention for companies seeking a highly qualified work force. That, in turn, could produce other economic development opportunities.

In this program a data services company called AstrumU, which is based in Kirkland, WA, will gather data and match the talent with available in-demand jobs. They will obtain Human Resource data from participating companies in the civilian sector to help make those matches. The companies will be able to analyze the skillsets of active-duty military members, helping them understand how the combinations of military qualifications, experiences and credentials fit into current job openings and career paths. AstrumU's platform ingests verified data directly from employers, educational providers, and participating service members to understand - and predict - how specific skills, credentials, and experiences translate into career outcomes.

Service members will be able to opt in and enroll in the program through military transition services like the Army Transition Assistance Program, which provides resources to help soldiers successfully transition into the civilian workforce. 

Companies who have already committed to participation in  this program include T-Mobile, P1 Group, Evergy and JE Dunn. A key goal in this new initiative will be to help those employers meet talent gaps by tapping into the active-duty military members who are beginning to transition into civilian roles.

Fort Riley and Junction City will be ground zero on this new effort.