Midwest Talent Strategy Inventory catalogs creative initiatives

Midwestern communities are getting creative as they confront the challenge of talent recruitment and retention in a shrinking market. From sophisticated marketing campaigns to growing their own talent in high schools and colleges, the demand for skilled talent is causing many communities to think outside the box.

That’s the finding of the Midwest Talent Strategy Inventory recently completed by Ady Advantage, a full-spectrum economic development consultancy headquartered in Madison, WI. Based on a survey of 120 Midwestern communities, the Inventory catalogs innovative and successful talent recruitment, retention and development strategies to serve as a resource for economic developers nationwide.

The top four talent strategies will be recognized at a seminar at the Mid America Economic Development Council Best Practices Conference in Milwaukee in July.

“The talent shortage is real, and it is only going to get worse for the foreseeable future,” said Janet Ady, Ady Advantage president and CEO. “What started a decade ago as a skills gap has turned into a simple shortage of bodies as the Baby Boomers are leaving the workforce faster than the Millennials can replace them. We’re now at a point where there are more open jobs available than there are unemployed people in the workforce to fill them, and I believe this trend won’t peak for years,” Ady said.

“As a result, companies are making workforce availability their number one priority in choosing siting locations. Economic developers know they can’t just sit on the sidelines and hope that schools and workforce agencies will solve this problem for them.  They are moving out of their comfort zones and building partnerships with other public and private entities to compete effectively for the dwindling talent resource,” she said.

Ady Advantage will recognize these innovative programs at the Mid-America EDC conference:

  • Perry County, IN – Pick Perry Campaign: “This is a great example of a unified marketing and messaging campaign that brought together economic developers with the Convention and

Visitor’s Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, and other stakeholders to address talent attraction and retention,” Ady said.

  • Hendricks County, IN – Logistics Sector Partnership: “This talent development and retention strategy set a specific goal of cultivating talent for the logistics and supply chain industry,” she said.
  • Hutchinson County, MN – TigerPath: “Hutchinson County created this school-based pathway program that combines education with hands-on experience, challenging misconceptions about manufacturing, and creating a Center for Technical Excellence” Ady said.
  • Michigan City, IN – Promise Scholarship: “This unique scholarship offers up to $5,000 per year, renewable for four years, to eligible Michigan City high school seniors who will be attending an Indiana college or vocational program. Students are also required to meet a community service requirement, with the goal of engaging them in the community and making it more likely they will live and work in Michigan City,” she said.

The talent strategies submitted to the Midwest Talent Strategy Survey will be added Ady Advantage’s Talent Strategy Database, which already contains over 200 talent initiatives the firm has encountered in its work with economic development clients throughout the country.

“Our goal is to help communities stay ahead of the curve on all aspects of economic development strategy,” Ady said. “When it comes to talent issues, communities want to know what is working in similar places, and our Talent Strategy Database was developed to address that need,” she said.

Ady Advantage is a specialized economic development and site selection consultancy that serves the needs of two interdependent entities: economic development organizations (EDOs) and relocating and expanding companies. The firm uses its in-depth knowledge of what businesses need to help EDOs craft effective business and talent recruitment, retention and expansion strategies and initiatives. Ady Advantage also assists small- and medium-sized enterprises, primarily manufacturers, in developing and implementing growth strategies.