SIDNEY – With thousands of job openings at local businesses, the Shelby County Transportation Planning Committee discussed the need to expand transportation opportunities for potential employees during its quarterly meeting Thursday morning.
Shelby County has people who are available to work, said Michelle Caserta-Bixler, mobility manager at Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, but many can’t afford transportation to work.
“It’s a viscous cycle unfortunately,” Caserta-Bixler said. “They need transportation to get to the jobs so they can make some money so they can eventually buy a car so that way they can get back and forth to work, but nobody wants to hire them because they don’t have a license or they can’t get to work. So it’s a vicious cycle unfortunately so that’s what we’re trying to face day by day here in Shelby County with our Transportation Planning Committee, we’re trying to face those issues, close those gaps and hopefully improve individuals’ lifestyle and the employment in Shelby County.”
Shelby County has resources available to help people with transportation such as the Shelby Public Transit. It provides public transportation throughout Shelby County – $2.50 per trip for the general public in Sidney or $5 within the county – but its hours are limited.
“We’re finding that there’s a lot of individuals that can’t get to jobs, especially second and third shift jobs,” Caserta-Bixler said. “The transit runs and is able to get them to first shift and get them to second shift, but they can’t get them home from second or to third shift. Those are the areas that we’re trying to work on. We’re going to expand with some surveys to find out exactly how great the need is, but we do know that there is a need through temporary services and also through past surveys that we have sent out to individuals saying that they don’t have cars to get there or can’t afford the car insurance or the gasoline.”
In an attempt to open more opportunities to residents, the Shelby County Transportation Planning Committee wants to work with employers to establish transportation services to jobs. The difficulty is getting companies to understand how better transportation services could help them find and retain employees.
“Our (human resources) folks are dying for people, and there’s not people lining up behind them,” Scott Barr, executive director of the Shelby County United Way, said. “One I talked to yesterday is down 30 (employees) with an expansion that’s going to happen, that they’re going to be down 70.
“They’re in a very, very tough situation right now with our numbers issue, and it is absolutely a numbers issue on top of skill and other things that go behind that.”
Shelby County Job & Family Services Administrator Tina Hooks also said she’s seen local businesses struggling to fill open positions.
“We have employers that come into our agency and interview, have open interview times, because they are desperate for people, to find workers,” she said.
Tam Blakely, mobility manager for Logan County RTC Services, Inc., said the committee needs to show companies they can save money by retaining employees, which might necessitate transportation services.
“How much is it going to cost you to retrain somebody? Hire somebody else and retrain them,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be better just to give this much towards their transportation? It would be cheaper.”
Also during Thursday’s meeting, Caserta-Bixler distributed new Shelby County Transportation Guides. The booklet describes public transportation options and resources that are available within the county.
Transportation guides are available at the Catholic Social Services office located at 100 S. Main Ave., Sidney. Individuals also may call Caserta-Bixler at 937-575-7115 to have a booklet delivered.
The next Shelby County Transportation Planning Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 24. The meetings are open to the public and the committee welcomes suggestions from community members.
Reach this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-538-4824.