WAHPETON, N.D.—The type of work experience that Tom Shorma often is looking for takes his search to all ends of the U.S.—and even the world.
How Congress eventually handles immigration is of utmost concern for his business, WCCO Belting Inc., a manufacturer of specialized rubber products for agriculture and manufacturing in Wahpeton. He doesn't feel the current laws are in any way business-friendly.
"It makes absolutely no sense that we educate our professionals here with global knowledge in a business or skill and then force them to go back overseas where another country will benefit," Shorma said.
Shorma, the CEO of WCCO Belting, is in a unique position. His company and its 270 employees (200 in North Dakota and 80 at a plant in Texas) are part of the North Dakota economy, which is the fastest-growing economy by state in the U.S. His firm is based at the edge of the oil rush in North Dakota, where the Bakken Shale formation has resulted in an influx of new residents to the area.
North Dakota economically was healthy even before oil was found, with a balanced state budget, a strong and largely unknown technology hub on the eastern side of the state and other thriving industries.
But the booming state economy doesn't serve one of Shorma's greatest needs.
Finding qualified employees is a challenge.
WCCO Belting provides customized rubber goods for its customers. The company has no inventory and manufactures no off-the-shelf products.