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Finding talent is topic of Tuesday business panel

BAXTER - A panel of three experts with extensive experience in human resource management will share their perspectives and offer advice during a free panel discussion titled "Staffing Challenges: Finding and Hiring Talent," scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium at The Body Works in Baxter.

Sponsored by the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC) and featuring three past or current leaders of the Lakes Area Human Resource Association (LAHRA), the event is geared toward business owners, those working in leadership positions, human resource professionals, entrepreneurs and anyone else who is looking for guidance on handling staffing challenges. Focus will be given to the topic of finding and hiring talented employees.

The panelists are:

• Tamra Laska — human resource director, Crow Wing County. Laska has worked as human resource and labor relations practice leader for 30 years. She transitioned to the public sector in 2006 after 12 years as vice president of human resource for Lunds and Byerly's and 13 years human resource management with Supervalu. Laska provides a perspective on private and public sector human resource strategies and opportunities.

• Chad Harting — co-owner, Employment Resource Center, Inc. Harting was born and raised in the Brainerd area. He has been an entrepreneur and served in management roles for more than 15 years. Harting and his wife Jody own Employment Resource Center, Inc., a locally owned and operated staffing agency. They opened ERC in 2007 after seeing the need for a local option in the Brainerd lakes area. They currently employ between 1,800 and 2,000 employees annually.

• Kristi Westbrock - chief operating officer, Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC). Westbrock has a strong background in human resources with 16 years of experience. Kristi has her SPHR (Senior Professional of Human Resources) accreditation and was named the Lakes Area Human Resources Professional in 2006. Kristi has a passion for organizational management, effective communication and creating unique work environments/experiences while driving business revenues.

Each panelist will give a presentation followed by an interactive question-answer session and then a time for networking. Light refreshments and beverages will be available.

There is no charge to attend. Those attending are asked to RSVP to Megan at

The event is part of BLAEDC's Business Insights series, which includes panel discussions, meetings and group discussions through BLAEDC's Executive Initiative that features more than 40 retired, semi-retired or relocated business executives who are volunteering their time to help BLAEDC grow business and create jobs.

Established in 1985, BLAEDC is a community-driven, nonprofit organization created to preserve and enhance the area's economic base by expanding business, building community and growing jobs in Crow Wing County.