QUINCY -- Workforce development was on the minds of many at the annual Community Leaders Breakfast on Monday morning at the Town & Country Inn and Suites.
Over 200 people from more than 20 businesses gathered at the event to hear from state Rep. Randy Frese, R-Paloma, and U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood. The Community Leaders Breakfast is an almost 30-year tradition in which representatives address and converse with community business and organization leaders.
"The good thing about this community is that people are engaged, especially the community leaders," Frese said. "They want to know what's going on."
This year marked Frese's fourth Community Leaders Breakfast.
"I hope this informs people of the philosophy of those who represent them," Frese said. "A lot of problems come our way. We get up here and address the people to let them know the philosophy we use to problem solve."
LaHood was the featured speaker. His conversations with Quincyans during and after the breakfast ranged from health care to agriculture and infrastructure.
"People want to see and talk to their representatives. It's about being able to take criticism and being accessible," LaHood said. "People appreciate it when you show up and take their questions, and I'm able to take their ideas back with me."
LaHood said one of the most pressing issues concerning Quincy is the struggle for local employers to secure skilled labor.
"We need to talk more about going to two-year trade schools, community colleges and apprenticeship programs," LaHood said. "The issue is getting them the resources they need to educate folks."
LaHood pointed to the bipartisan Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which recentlywas signed into law by President Donald Trump, as an indicator of progress at the federal level. The act simplifies the application process for receiving federal funds and provides more flexibility to use federal resources to support state and local career and technical education programs.
For Frese, the biggest problem he sees at the state level is the need for pension reform, a problem he sees trickling down to the city level.
"It's eating up a lot of cash flow, and they don't have enough money left to provide the core services people expect, That's where the rubber meets the road," Frese said. "We've debated it quite thoroughly over the last two or three years and have made no real dent in it. It's going to take all stakeholders coming together to make some agreement of concessions to get things back in line."?