Article featured on Lancaster Online.

CNH Industrial is a global powerhouse. It is also a Lancaster powerhouse thanks to the New Holland Agriculture brand, its significant local workforce and its sizable, diverse campus in the northeast part of Lancaster County that houses manufacturing, research and development and broad administrative functions.

A few weeks ago, CNH hosted 60 Lancaster County educators for three days, providing hands-on exposure to the wide variety of jobs and skills deployed each day in its facilities.

This externship program was driven by the Lancaster County STEM Alliance, an initiative led by The Steinman Foundation that is elevating the critical need for science, technology, engineering and math as core components of the county’s workforce development to meet the needs of business today and in the future.

A large team at CNH worked for over a year preparing the curriculum and experiences, both to ensure the participating educators fully understood the skills their students need and to equip them with lesson plans for the classroom.

The fortunate individuals who participated received an extraordinary immersive experience. There are several other key lessons from this three-day event, however, that have much broader implications across the county.

Lancaster County is home to business gems
Many, if not most, of those who participated had never stepped foot on CNH’s campus and expressed amazement at what they learned about the company.

The county is home to business gems that are national and global leaders yet quiet on the home front. They occupy industrial and office spaces that we drive by every day.

At the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County, our team has the privilege and luxury of meeting with employers of all sizes and touring their facilities. We are finding companies with remarkable growth, global business relationships, innovative quality controls and incredibly diverse workforces.

While many businesses have strong local ties, in today’s business environment, companies are more mobile than ever. It is important that anchor businesses are recognized and valued.

Skilled workers are in high demand
Not surprisingly, companies like CNH are hungry for talent and specific skills.

CNH showcased everything from accounting to welding to engineering. Its yearlong investment in planning three days for a relatively small segment of Lancaster’s educational cohort is testimony to the need to link our K-12 pipeline to future employers far more directly.

Will CNH see a direct return on its investment in preparing for this externship? It is impossible to know, but everyone who participated in any of the three days has a much clearer understanding of the job opportunities and needs that exist today and will exist in the future.

Businesses are staying engaged
CNH provided another great example of community engagement by business.

Sure, the company raised its profile in certain segments of Lancaster, but the primary beneficiaries are the students and educators. CNH followed in the footsteps of The High Cos., which debuted the externship last year to rave reviews. Eurofins Lancaster Laboratories, another major anchor employer in Leola, has signed on for 2019.

Lancaster County continues to be a model for strong collaborations that bring good minds from non-profits, government and business together for the betterment of the community. CNH, in partnership with the STEM Alliance and local school districts, just provided another stalwart example.

• Lisa Riggs is president of the Economic Development Company of Lancaster County.