HUDSON — James Lapenn of Hillsdale will represent Columbia County’s economic development agency on a Twin County board that provides local governments and education institutions with guidance on how to build a more skilled labor force.
The Columbia Economic Development Corporation announced Thursday that Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell appointed Lapenn to represent the CEDC on the Columbia-Greene Workforce Development Board.
Lapenn, who is retired, was elected to the CEDC Board of Directors in 2016. He made a career in international law with the firm LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene and MacRae, where he specialized in municipal and project finance. Lapenn serves as chairman of the CEDC board’s Workforce Development Committee. In addition, Lapenn has been involved with the Town of Hillsdale Economic Development Committee. He has also been an active member of the community, serving as vice chairman and treasurer of Columbia Memorial Hospital.
“Jim Lapenn will add decades of experience to the Workforce Development Board and continue his distinguished career serving our community,” Murell said. “I couldn’t be more confident in his appointment.”
The Workforce Development Board was created in 1998 to conduct strategic planning, create policy and provide oversight and accountability for adult and youth training programs. The board also helps connect people with training and jobs in the area.
The Workforce Development Board is mostly made up of local business owners.
“The experience of our board members is what drives our success,” said Katy Drake, director of the Workforce Development Board. “Jim brings an incredible depth of experience from his legal career, community involvement and ongoing commitment to the workforce through his role at CEDC.”
Columbia and Greene counties have seen lower unemployment numbers in the past year. Columbia County’s unemployment rate in November was 2.6 percent, the lowest in 2018, and Greene County had a November unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, which is up 2 percentage points from October.
But local business advocates and officials have expressed concerns in the past that there is a dearth of qualified workforce to fill available job openings in the area.
“Developing a skilled workforce is essential for local companies to be able to grow and to be able to attract new companies to Columbia County,” CEDC President and CEO F. Michael Tucker said. “As we continue to face new employment challenges in the 21st century from globalization and technology-based job displacement, it is critical for economic development organizations, workforce development organizations, educational institutions and employers to form productive partnerships.”
Lapenn did not respond to a request for comment.