So you’re the economic development director in a small- to medium-sized rural community that is showing slow to no growth in population and labor force. Your local employers have a backlog of open jobs, but generally seem disengaged with workforce development (other than one or two star employers). A new supplier serving a nearby OEM just announced that it will be opening up a new facility and will be hiring for 200 positions.

You can see that this is an unsustainable trajectory. Something needs to change. But where do you start? Do you start a talent recruitment campaign to fill those open positions? How about getting those kids in the high school engaged with the careers that are available from local employers? Or maybe all you need to do is attract “better” employers to the industrial park to increase your tax base, and the rest will follow?

Although this scenario is not based on any particular client, it is very realistic and demonstrates the complexity of economic development today. What appears on the surface to be a discrete issue is actually an interrelated web of issues. And that’s why solving it requires a more systemic approach. Otherwise, you run the risk of addressing just one issue, only to have three more pop up somewhere else.

The Ady Advantage approach, which we call “Capacity Readiness,” takes into account both external assets (workforce, infrastructure, etc.) and internal assets (funding, programs, etc.). We guide clients through the four-step process diagrammed below.


Ady Advantage capacity readiness



Related tips for economic developers:

  1. Don’t jump into addressing specific symptoms until you have assessed your strategy’s broader impact.
  2. Do not start with visioning. Visioning without first mapping assets is like an unmoored ship. You are likely to end up with all kinds of blue-sky scenarios of what your region wants to be – that may be unachievable and unrealistic.
  3. Do get input from stakeholder groups, but structure it so they can build off the research you have gathered.
  4. Be strategic. We all have limited time and resources, and the future of your region is too important to not have a well thought-out plan.

Today’s most successful talent specialists will not just be focusing on recruiting for current openings, they will be defining what they want their future workforce to be, based on the four-step process above. Ady Advantage can help you skate to where the puck will be, not to where it’s been. Talk to us to help plot your future. We can work through the Capacity Readiness process with you and identify specific, actionable strategies for getting you where you need to be. Contact Janet Ady to learn more: 608-663-9218.



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